Sunday, December 01, 2019

Jesus is Lord even if we are mad at him and don't want Christmas

Mother's Day 2010
In the early years of the United States, many Christians didn't celebrate Christmas at all--it was just another day--because it had been spoiled by drunken parties and materialism common among the British. Sort of like today. My mom never had a Christmas present as a child, although I think there were cards exchanged at school because I have some of them. My dad did remember getting a new pair of overalls as a kid and somehow they scraped together enough money to buy candy. Ironic that they were so poor and my mom's parents had money, yet dad's family found something to celebrate and mom's made it just another day, no celebration. They did loosen up after grandchildren, and learned to enjoy the holiday.  Just the other day I bought a box of art supplies that reminded me of something they gave me when I was maybe 8 years old. I'll probably never open it, because I don't draw anymore, but it was fun to see it.

The first Christmas I remember was 1944 in Alameda, CA when Dad was in the marines in WWII. Scary times. I know I had memories earlier than that because I can remember I thought that singing carols in the fog (that smell of the Bay has stayed with me) was very different than singing carols in the snow in Illinois--I just have no specific memory of 1943 or 1942. Also we didn't have a church which seemed odd to me. We went to the school gym for a Christmas program. I suppose the military towns had grown so fast there was no thought of churches. There was death and destruction everywhere, so people probably thought God had left town.

My faith was just something passed along to me by community, family and tradition until 1974, then I believed. Lots of questions I plan to ask Jesus because things haven't always worked out. I don't know how 20th century American Christians got the idea that faith was all happy clappy touchy feely. 100 million people lost their lives in the 20th century due to socialism/communism totalitarian governments--a huge number of them where Christians. And neither God nor the U.S. military saved them. And that doesn't count the war dead--another 40 million--and then it was Christians fighting each other!

On the other hand, I've had so many blessings over the years that others have missed, I'll probably ask about that, too. Although, I sort of suspect everything will become clear without even asking. As Paul says, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood."

Things are really foggy for me now, but someday I'll know.

Today is the first day of Advent, a time we look back, to the first Christmas, the birth of Jesus, and forward to when he comes again in glory.  It's the first day of the new Christian year, a time the church gives us to start fresh.  It's true that Christ has already taken his seat at the right hand of God, but

"now he comes to be born in the narrowness of our lives to be incarnate in us, to give his love to the world through us, through our flesh and blood. . . The reason why we are where we are this Christmas, in this house, family, office, workroom, hospital, or camp, is because it is here in this place that Christ wants to be born, from here that he wants his life to begin again in the world"  (Caryll Houselander, "Lift up your hearts" 1978.) From Magnificat, December 2019

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