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I Do Not Post Over Christmas and I Have Wondered Why.

Perhaps it is because in those twelve days – December 25 to January 5 – I try to celebrate incarnation in what I do. And at least in recent years that celebration has been a taking in of wonder rather than a sharing of it. Then again, perhaps I do not blog at Christmas because I have never been at home with the holiday as we celebrate it and you do not want me to get started on all that: parties and festive lights during advent, a quiet season of fast and waiting; stars that shine day and night for three kings; a baby that “no crying he makes…” Babies all cry. They have to cry in order to develop their lungs in order to later talk! He must have cried like any other baby! Like I said, you do not want to get me started on Christmas. And I have not even mentioned the big fat fake in the long white beard! Whoops. I got started… …almost. 

The news this fall and winter has been coming at me hard like fists, like body blows to my psyche.

  • Fiscal Cliff
  • Newtown, CT
  • 2012: the warmest year on record by a full degree
  • The government sued by an insurance executive which it spent billions to bail out just four years ago
  • War by drone strike which is averaging six kills a day: Obama’s Wars

Two of the casualties of such strikes back in 2011 were U.S. citizens; a father and then two weeks later his sixteen year old son. U.S. citizens killed by their own government. I can’t imagine: Suddenly. Blindly. From the air. Out of the sky. People were standing over there and then, BANG! Poof. Not there; just smoke and blood and bits. 

There was a lawsuit last two weeks ago on the government killing U.S. citizens in that way, from the sky, with no due process, no warning: Shazzam! Like the thunder god, Thor. The judge said there is clearly smoke and probably fire but she cannot adjudicate the matter because even the so-called legal justifications for the strikes are TOP SECRET. National security. No way to make to do discovery; no way to build a case by either side. Justice has given way to a cloak of secrecy.

Sometimes worse than the news are the responses to it.

We will not raise the debt ceiling again without serious spending cuts.

As though patients were ever healed through the leaching of blood.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

As though the cowboy westerns of my childhood were true and there really are good guys with white hats and clean-shaven faces and bad guys with black hats and mustaches. Can anyone say, “Jingoism?” Thought you could.

With all this snow, who is talking now about global warming!?

Could someone tell the fools who talk this way that substantial snowfall requires warmth, not cold and that increasing numbers of blizzards are as much a sign that the earth’s atmosphere is being warmed by human actions as are droughts, floods and hurricanes.

Sandy

I live in the upper middle of this country which must be why I left Sandy off my list of recent body blows.And the response? The U.S. House of Representatives of the 112th Congress, the most do-nothing congress on record, adjourned without passing a disaster relief package for the millions of people in New York and New Jersey who were struck by Sandy. And when a firestorm of public outcry reached the ears of their leaders, they hastily convened to pass a bill for a fraction of the money needed. Among the sixty-seven who voted against even that meager package was one congressman from the Gulf Coast whose district was rebuilt by millions in Federal disaster relief after Katrina. This man, at least, need never wonder what the word hypocrite means. To refresh his memory he merely needs to look in the mirror.

Hearing the Word of the Lord

And where is God in such a body-blowing time as this? Where is God? Do we know how to see the wind of the Spirit, to hear the voice of the Almighty when the winds of our time are howling? Do not ask the world to be quiet so that you can hear a still small voice. Not at such a time as this. This time the voice of God is in the whirlwind, in the tornado, the hurricane, in the injustice, in the slaughter of the innocents.

Ah. The slaughter of the innocents: an actual Christmas theme which we have carefully expunged from our domesticated and sanitized celebrations.Matthew is the gospel in which we read of the slaughter of every innocent baby boychild under the age of two years in a small Judaean town. And just what was Matthew’s point? He was shouting at his frightened Messianic Jewish brethren and sisteren!

‘Are you seriously considering going back into fellowship with those who were frightened when they heard the messiah had been born, those who sent soldiers to slaughter our king?’

It is the Lord who shakes, who smites the nations in their folly. And when the people of God who live among the nations, whose nations have been blessed because of their presence, collectively close their ears to the counsels of God, when the people of God become like the nations in which they have resided, then God removes his blessing from the nations and shakes and smites his people with body blows, with the very winds and droughts and blizzards which he had reserved for the nations who ask, “Where is your God?”

What in the World is God Doing!?

If God is in charge whose side is God on? God is on God’s side. Sometimes we can not see God at work because we assume God, who only means good for his creation must always be seen blessing, healing, quieting, quelling. We forget the other side of God, the scary side from which people in ancient times hid themselves in the clefts of rocks and in holes in the ground. The Lord who lovwes us is again shaking the nations. He is stirring up the nations in which his people reside. If his people will not hear him in the book and in the wind and so bring wisdom to those nations then God will turn his face from them and devise a new thing.

Like the time God began with a baby, born as a homeless waif, a barbarian child, far from the corridors of power, on the very edge of “civilization.” He was a young child, born to be king, brought the tribute of heathen kings while his own fearful people stayed away or struck out in fear. When God’s people will not hear and do his counsels God will seek out a remnant and empower a new people with which he will heal the clueless nations.

Is this a time such as that? God has roused himself from gracious silence. He has turned his eyes toward those who are not gracious, who do not bend, who will not share.

Lord have mercy on us. We cannot abide your fury for long. Teach us to see you in action and how to read our times that we might be humble and raise our voices for the sake of justice and mercy, that we might walk again in the ways of fruitfulness and peace. I pray in the name of your enforcer, your champion, our savior and lord, King Jesus. Amen.

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