Yesterday afternoon we attended the 4 o'clock Christmas Eve service at First Church and enjoyed the children as they acted out the manger scene unrehearsed. It was cute, funny and a wonderful family service! We debated which service to attend since there was another at 7:30 that was going to be more "adult." Bailey wanted to go at 4:00 and during the service he talked a lot about his mother and how she had done children's pageants in the past. It was a nice time and we were able to have communion and prayer!
This morning after I brewed a cup of coffee, turned on all the Christmas lights, and got a fire going in the fireplace we sat and opened gifts. Bailey bought me a pair of shoes (yes they fit and are pretty cool, go figure) and a heated and vibrating back cushion for a chair, either at home or in the car. Bailey said he bought it for me because the box said it could help reduce stress. Now, how sweet is that? Then a bit later Bailey said that it seemed that many people had left us. I think the exact word he used was forgotten! Now that was profound! Yes, many people have seemed to drift away and it has made for a lonely condition for both Bailey and I. Together though we forge ahead giving each other all that we can. There is no anger or hatred but maybe a realization at this Christmas time that we should all remember the new possibilities that Christ's birth symbolizes. We are grateful for those who have remained close and caring.
I have seen many programs about Christ and his life on the National Geographic channel and they led me to recall some of Thomas Moore's latest book about the Gospels. At the end of the book he talks about how it is never mentioned in the Gospels that Christ was desiring to start a religion. Instead he was offering "a peaceful and fulfilling life by adopting a different set of values. The crux, of course, is a shift from judgement, competition and aggression to the rule of an open heart."
He goes on to give four ways to live the Gospel spirit in today's world and perhaps this can be (and is as I write) my own object of contemplation and direction on this day of birth! Not the birth of a more virtuous and improved person but the beginning of a way to care more about each other in this "worldwide community!"
So his first suggestion is to..."cultivate a respect for people who are not of your circle and whom society rejects."
Secondly he says, "...do everything possible to deal effectively with demonic urges in yourself and in society. You do something about aggression, paranoia, narcissism, greed, jealousy, and violence. You live with a mindset that doesn't justify such things but seeks alternatives."
Third,...."You play the role of a healer in every situation. The word THERAPY appears 47 times in the New Testament--you adopt a therapeutic posture in the style of Jesus the healer."
Finally, "You stay awake and don't fall into the unconsciousness of the age. You help others wake up to a thoughtful life imagined in fresh, original, and convivial ways. (Convivial means fond of feasting, drinking, and merry company.)
Hmmm... sounds like a good way to be reborn at this time of the celebration of a man's birth that taught these very things. Yes, he lived a divine and fully human life. Historically many have tended to try to elevate or mystify that divinity in ways that distance us from our own divinity. Moore says that, "Christ lived fully on this earth in the community of his friends and family, but he also never left contact with his heavenly father. He was shamanic, skilled at being both earthy and visionary." Then he goes on to point out that Renaissance theologians said, "that we too could be both human and divine. Deus humanus was their phrase, a divine human." I agree with Moore when he says that our world (our culture) has lost it's "spiritual vision" and have turned the gospels into a "book of moral standards."
I remember hearing an evangelist named Malcolm Smith in 1977 at a retreat on Lake George in New York say that indeed we are all sons and daughters of God. I recall his words. GOD, capital G, unbeginning and eternal and us, his vice-regent on Earth, a finite copy of the infinite, little g........yes we too can be divine and human. We can imagine a new world. Blasphemy? Or is this thinking the kingdom here and now for this age and beyond? A new Dawn?
I have been listening to U2 a lot lately and recently purchased another DVD. This time it is the VERTIGO tour. This performance of a great song strikes me...Pay close to attention to Bono's headband and his comments that begin with COEXIST...
This next song simply demonstrates the deep spiritual connection of a rock band and clearly mirrors Thomas Moore's four steps of Gospel living stated above! How profound, moving. connected and all from something many would write off as meaningless rock n roll from the secular world! No....more like fully human and connected to their heavenly father?
All Pictures taken tonight 12-25-09