Chistmas, A Holiday of Hope for All Faiths

As Christians around the world celebrate the Christmas season, we find that there is a mix of what this means to people and a great debate arising from the celebration as faiths clash and we struggle to co-habitat on our planet. Here are some reflections on what the coming of the Christ child means to me.

The life of Jesus is more than a beautiful story. His life of selfless love and giving built a bridge back to God. It accomplished something amazing for all people, for all time, in all belief systems. It is not exclusively for Christians, but his life gives access to a knowing of God that is possible to all who truly seek to know God. He is Jacob’s ladder. He is the Christ power.

When you look at the condition of our planet, something has obviously gone wrong. In the Judeo/Christian tradition the focus one uses in describing what that is has been called sin. But we have worn the word out and sin means so many things to so many different people. To many people, it means “bad”. To some it is eating a piece of meat to others it is wearing a pair of pants.

We are “sinful” and therefore we need “saving”. This is the main lens and paradigm that Christians use to describe the work of Christ. But there are also other stories that emerge from the sacred scriptures that give us other lenses for viewing what is needed in our planet.

Marcus Borg, in “The Heart of Christianity”, introduces a couple of different paradigms for viewing the work of Christ in the world, and I am indebted to him for these.

The first story is one of deliverance and it speaks pointedly to the condition of humanity. It comes from the Old Testament story of the children of Israel being delivered from slavery in Egypt. Moses was sent to lead the Israelites from captivity into freedom. It speaks of salvation as freedom from slavery. When one is in bondage, it is freedom that is needed. A woman in an abusive relationship needs freedom from oppression more than she needs forgiveness of “sin”.

Indeed, when the idea of being in bondage to something is the basis for the coming of Christ, we can see that His work includes deliverance from our ignorance and attachments to the world. We are easily overcome with materialism and quickly become slaves to acquiring and supporting the constant demands of our ego. If ever there were an important area where we needed help, it is freedom from our bondage to that which does not last.

A second story also comes from the Old Testament and occurs later in the history of the Hebrew people. This is the story of the captivity in Babylon. For 70 years they lived in exile from Jerusalem. The day of return was one of rejoicing and hope. When we view the work of Christ as one of helping us to return, we realize that we are in exile from our divine nature and the true inheritance that God longs to bestow upon us.

The work of Christ was to build a way of return to God, to bring us back into a close, intimate relationship with the Divine. Through the work of the Spirit, Christ can live within the heart and mind and transform the life. This is the path of return from our exile away from God.

The other great ministry of Jesus in the world was one of healing from sickness. There are many things we experience in life that cause sickness, not only physical sickness, but mental and emotional sickness as well. The work of Christ was and still is to bring healing to whatever we are afflicted with.

This is the real message of Christmas to me—that the Christ power is available in my life to bring me freedom from bondage to my ego and materialism, return and restoration from my exile from life without God, and healing for my soul, my emotions, my mind, and my body. The living Christ that lives within is the gift of the babe in a manger that continues to give me peace in my heart and goodwill towards my fellow travelers. May this same gift be yours this Christmas season.

Comments

Mystical Seeker said…
Borg has done a lot to make Christianity a more meaningful faith for people like me who couldn't buy into the old paradigms, and for that I am very grateful.

Have you read Borg's and Dominic Crossan's new book "The First Christmas"? That book (perhaps reflecting more strongly Crossan's theology, especially from his previous book "God & Empire") suggests a more political interpretation of Christmas.
Julie Smith, MS said…
Hello Mystical Seeker!

I have enjoyed much of Marcus Borg's work, although at times I don't agree with his conclusions. He has, however, contributed so much and has stripped away much that needs to go.

I haven't checked out the new book, but it sounds interesting and I will look at it. Thanks.

There is a book called "The Emerging Christian Way" that is a compilation of several different authors. It speaks of a transformational christianity, also, and gives much food for thought.

Blessings to you!