Today the world, like it or not, remembers the birth of Jesus some 2000 years ago. Remembers, though not necessarily celebrates. In rememberance of the Gift given to the world of God’s son we present gift to our loved ones. When I was young (and Moses was trying to tread water in the Nile) we gave gifts we felt expressed our feelings towards the other person. These days we give gifts that advertisers tell us we should give, and if we don’t give that Helzberg diamond then we really don’t love her.
In the Bible Jesus is referred to by many names: Lamb of God, Good Shephard, Bread of Life, to list a few. Most relevant to today is the name Prince of Peace. The world is in tumoil, America probably more than any other country. Wars and rumors of wars abound, man is set against man. America, a country born on the freedom of speech now demands opposing views be silenced in, of all places, our educational systems (from grade school thru universities). Unyeilding ideologies are tearing the country apart, and all sides are equally to blame, and the media seems to be content, perhaps elated, with their role of fanning the flames, instead of encouraging civility.
John 13:34-35 (RSV) “34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
If someone were to come upon you in a crowd, would they know that you are a follower of Jesus by the jewelry you wear, or by your actions? Reverend Susan Rothenberg, a Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh recently attacked the President of the United States for trying to express the nations grief after the shooting at a local Synagogue. She was not part of the synagogue, she was not representing any group of people, but she felt it necessary, at a time of grieving, to let the nation know of her hatred of the President. Is this an example of Jesus love?
Matthew 5:43-48 (RSV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
America is at a crossroads. Bigotry abounds on all sides. Left vs. Right. Citizen vs. Immigrant. Mysogyny. Homophobia. Racism. All are rampant in our country now, and will tear America apart if we don’t learn how to compromise. Everyone needs to learn how to get along and not antagonize, intentionally or not, the other side. The media, et. al., needs to learn that words have meaning and stoke the flames (calling radicals on one side progressive and on the other facist doesn’t help).
As you celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, I urge you to pray that in the coming year you might follow in His footsteps and work to unite rather than divide. To remember the loving Gift of Peace given to us by Our Father in Heaven. To follow in the way of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
where there is hatred let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Christ is Born, Glorify Him!
Mike, The Modern Theologian