I've got a guest post today from my pastor, Rev. Betsy Ouelette Zierden. Merry Chrismas, everybody.
The angel said to them “ Do not be afraid, for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people; to you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is the messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12
One of my favorite artists died this month on Dec 5th she was 97 years old. Edna Hible was known for her ability to capture the emotion between a Mother and her baby. Her website quotes her saying, “I feel so strongly that a mother and her baby are what makes the world go around… all over the world wherever I have been the feeling between mother and baby is exactly the same. They may carry them differently but the looks on their faces is the same.”
I discovered Edna Hible’s works years ago about the same time I became a mother for the first time. The gaze of love that was shared as Mother and child stared into one another’s eyes struck me as a key into understanding the heart and love of God. Regardless of ethnicity, native costuming and background the essence of love and connection was there. I began to understand at a deep level that the thing that bonds us as human beings across culture is the shared capacity for loving connection.
On this particular Christmas Eve, I open my BBC news app and read the following headlines “IS captures Jordan warplane”, “Police killing sparks St. Louis unrest”, Hong Kong crash sparks money grab”, India rebels kill dozens in Assam… on and on it goes. There seems to be good reason to be afraid.
Terrorism is now targeting children. A satanic holiday display sits in our state capital1. Racial division continues to exist and causes much pain and mistrust among Americans. Our political system and leaders seem to divide us more than unite us and yet the Angel’s words ring out clear and true. Don’t be afraid!
Don’t be afraid. A Savior who is the Messiah is born. Don’t be afraid you were created for hope. Don’t be afraid you have been called to love, to faith to virtue.
God has come to show us who we really are…Emanuel, God with us demands we hear the Good News.
The Shepherds were minding their own business not expecting much that night, maybe a few shooting stars. When suddenly an Angel stood before them and the Glory of the Lord shone around them and they were enveloped in the light and glory of God. They were terrified so afraid they really listened and in hearing the Good News their fear dissipated. They said to one another Let us Go and see this thing the Lord has made know to us. “ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. Edna was right “a mother and her baby make the world go around” and this baby belongs to us. This baby belongs to ALL of us This child is Kin to all of us!
Tribalism involves 50,000 years of conditioning humans for survival of the “tribe”. The focus was on the survival of our kin.
With the birth of Jesus everything changes a child is born who is kin to all of us. Because his ancestry and blood is not specific to one tribe alone having been conceived by the Holy Spirit the Creator himself we are all kin to one another.
In particular Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary who lived in a particular place Nazareth and was from a particular tribe, Israel. Jesus was a Jew.
Universally all of us are created in the Image of God who took on flesh in the womb of a virgin made pregnant by the Holy Spirit. My Father and Jesus’s Father are one. Jesus is my brother. All people are related to the Prince of Peace!
This mystery is best understood when we consider what binds us as humans across cultures, the love of Mother and Child, the need of the Father’s protection and provision as seen in the Nativity. A Savior is born and a New Age enters in for this baby is fully God and Fully man. This baby is destined to reveal the Love and the Intention of God our Creator.
Skipping over the evolutionary process Jesus is a fully evolved human being. He is what we are designed to become. He is generous, kind, compassionate, empathetic, truthful, peace making, joyful, playful and self-sacrificing.
In a recent article in Scientific America, Dacher Kellner who wrote Born to Be Good; the Science of a Meaningful Life says, ”Evolution has crafted species with remarkable tendencies towards kindness, play, generosity, reverence and self-sacrifice which are vital to the classic tasks of evolution, survival, gene-replication and smooth functioning groups. ”He offers a hopeful view of humanity. Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” turns out to include extending kindness, empathy and compassion. At our core, our best selves include the capacity for virtue and compassion. Jesus proves this for me, for us and for all. Which is why we need not be afraid.
The terrorist will fail in the end.
Hate groups will dissolve over time.
Greed results in Emptiness.
Selfishness leads to loneliness.
Lust turns life to dust.
Behold I bring you good news for all people! In Christ Jesus we have hope! In Jesus we have God with us! In the Savior we have forgiveness, in him we have our true likeness. Virtue is our birthright and love is our calling.
Look closely now into the Nativity. Look closely at the Holy Family see how they love one another. There is peace and light in the midst of the night.
1 – For the record, the Satanic Holiday Display doesn’t worry me at all. I see it as a satire, designed to promote a secular government, and not an actual monument to Satan. But, to Betsy’s point, this statue causes a lot of fear in our society today. -Mike