Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Waxing Spiritual: "O Holy Night"

Truly he taught us to love one another.

I'm grieving the many lives lost at the hands of those who justify their actions with law, ideology, and their knowledge of good and evil.

I am standing in solidarity with the vulnerable:

Pakistani students
Those in the path of ISIS
Too many caught in the conflicts of their forefathers

His law is love and his gospel is peace.

I understand why God says, "Vengeance is mine." When vengeance is left to us, we inflict painful, harmful damage--like a sibling in a rage over some perceived offense. Two wrongs do not make a right. And yet our world continues to hop on the merry-go-round of "eye for an eye" policies and "he had it coming" justifications.

Meanwhile, parents and children grieve.

No explanations or justifications assuage those voids.

Chains will he break for the slave is our brother.

I am grateful that when God saw the mess we made of our world, he did not come with weapons to repay us in kind. Rather, he came in dark skin with lungs that require oxygen as a needy, vulnerable child who would grow up within religious and political systems run by authorities concerned with self-preservation and control.

And God-as-man would subvert them not with power but with surrender, not with vengeance but with forgiveness, not with violence but with peace.

And in his name all oppression shall cease.

Jesus is scandalous because his justice is accomplished by self-sacrifice, because his judgement is mercy.

Jesus is scandalous because he does not dignify the self-righteous and vilify the criminal. Jesus is scandalous because he does not believe one man's sin renders his life less valuable than another.

His is a methodology that is foolishness to our world and our culture and even our churches. Jesus would never bother over nativity scenes in front of government buildings or cashiers wishing customers a "Happy Holidays" because he's too busy bleeding with victims of actual oppression.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we.

He is nothing like us. His instinct is neither self-defense nor revenge.

Let all within us praise His holy name.

This Christmas, I grieve and lament the tragic losses we inflict upon each other.

But I celebrate Emmanuel, God with us, who lay in the street with Michael Brown and fought for air with Eric Garner and suffered with hostages in Sydney and rode trains with Muslim brothers and sisters afraid of backlash and bled alongside the children in Peshawar and knelt with the victims of ISIS, and who also descended into hell to whisper grace to the men who pulled the trigger, who swung the sword, who tightened their grip on judgement and power.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever.

What we see now is not the end of the story.

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Easter is coming.

O night divine, O night, O night divine. 

But for now, Merry Christmas.

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