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2020-12-23

Minister's Post, Thu Dec 24

I am hesitant to say anything summative about the year 2020 when there is still a week of it left to go. A lot can happen in a week, which is one thing that the first 51/52nds of 2020 showed us.

A pandemic rages and ravages. A sitting president has, for nearly four years, pounded away at truth itself -- the very idea of a shared, evidence-supported (and therefore learnable) reality that (ahem) trumps the impulse to believe and declare whatever the ego finds gratifying to believe. Politicians have always fibbed some, but, friends, scale matters. And the scale of the mendacity coming from the White House ever since January 2017 has been staggering. Nor have we any confidence that healing is coming. The attraction of authoritarianism remains strong among a great number of neighbors.

All this. And.

Christmas.

It is the anniversary that we, by convention, celebrate -- of the time when, according to legend, God became flesh and was simultaneously human and divine. Christmas. There is a power in this annual celebration in the darkest days of the year that we should not ignore.

Like the shepherds in the carol of the first Noel, our eyes are cast to the east -- hoping against hope to see the rising of a star, a harbinger of the salvific power of truth somewhat more convincing than the Saturn and Jupiter aligning (though that is a loveliness not to overlooked!)

From around the globe scenes of conflict, strife, and war invade our consciousness. We are all the descendants of the hunter-gatherer tribes that were successful in battle against neighboring tribes, and the victors had more offspring than the defeated, so war-fighting came to be embedded in our DNA. Readiness to violence is not a bug of human nature – it’s a feature. But we know it isn’t the only feature. The Metta Sutta (from the Buddhist tradition) says: “As a mother protects her child, her only child, so with a boundless heart should we cherish all living beings.” That boundless heart was also necessary for our species survival, is also embedded in our DNA, and is also a feature of our species.

So like those shepherds we look to the east to see what may be rising. We pray that love will more abundantly become flesh and dwell among us,that compassion will more luxuriantly flourish in human hearts.

We have made some discoveries. The divinity of humankind is the humanity of God. Everyone who serves love is the child of God, and everyone who bears love is the parent of God. This, we celebrate. In the bleakness of winter, we celebrate these discoveries, cloaked as they may be in the garment of legend. God is not greater than life, and life is not less than God.

In this season, in these times, then, let every cradle be visited by the three good monarchs of Faith and Hope and Love. Then Christmas shall be with us always, and every birth shall be the birth of God among humankind, and every child a Christ child, and every song a song of angels.

Practice of the Week

For the winter, we'll be highlighting some SLOGANS TO LIVE BY. While the "Might Be Your Thing" practices featured in autumn might also NOT be your thing, these slogans are for everyone -- reminders to carry with us at all times; little nudges that nudge us in the direction of spiritual health and fulfillment. These practices don't require setting aside a separate substantial chunk of time -- but they will slow you down a bit (and that's a good thing.) Resolve to get stronger at living by these maxims, day by day. Sometimes make one of them the focus of your daily journaling.

For the first week of winter, our SLOGAN TO LIVE BY is: See the Good in Yourself. The post about this slogan explains why and how this slogan is so important and so helpful.

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