December 25, 2004
Below is an article I wrote for today's Detroit News. I send it to you with my deepest wishes that this be a blessed and joyous day in your life.
AND PEACE SHALL REIGN FOREVER AND EVER
For all the material hoopla associated with Christmas, the holiday itself is a spiritual reality. Its meaning doesn't lie in Christmas trees and ribbons and bows, but in the birth of something fantastic and new inside the human heart.
If we're not careful, we can get so tied up with the outer that we forget the inner. And thus the point is lost.
There is a painful disconnect between the joy of Christmas and the horror of war, between sleigh bells ringing and our soldiers coming home dead and maimed. And there in that disconnect lies the tragedy of human life. The point of Christmas is not to blot that painful realization from our minds. The point of Christmas is to provide the only real joy there is: the hope that humanity will have a change of heart, and war shall be no more.
Otherwise, the joy of Christmas is more a mockery of God than an embrace of Him. The joy of Christmas is not a response to how the world is, but rather to how it can be and shall be when our hearts have been transformed by love.
The significance and power of the light of Christmas is that it emerged into the midst of darkness. The birth of Christ two thousand years ago did not occur at a time when things were good, but at a time when things seemed hopeless -- as to many they seem now. Suddenly, there was hope and its name was love. The star of Bethlehem led to our salvation in the tender scene of a mother having given birth, not to a council of men planning war. It bespoke the miracle of love, not the willfulness of brute force. The way some people talk today, you'd think that when the shepherds got to the manger, they found there a cache of AK-47s and a sign that said, "Go kill the bad guys. Convert the other ones. That will save the world."
What to some sounds like blasphemy, to others sounds like truth.
The birth of Jesus is more than a historical reality. It is a spiritual reality, that occurs every moment when our hearts are open to love. Many who proclaim Him do not give Him birth, and many give Him birth who do not proclaim Him. Where there is love, God is.
So how do we allow love to actually be our salvation, in a world where hatred and attack and war rage around us? We have seen it, but we have ignored it; we have been shown, but we refused to see. On the days after the catastrophe of September 11, 2001, in a state of utter pain and heartbreak, America was thrown right into its heart. And in response, the world joined with us. There, in that moment of universal compassion, we were touched by angels in our heartache and grief. We were delivered to a sense of our oneness, our nationhood, and the fragility of life. And had we stayed there - had we allowed those feelings of tenderness and love to guide our thoughts - we would have found a wisdom and divine intelligence to move forward in the direction of genuine triumph. As it is, we found what is actually true: in the final analysis, we often give lip service to love. We think it's great until things get truly serious. And then, when things get really rough, we think hatred is a greater power, do we not? And so we went with that. We looked to war to save us.
Yet be not dismayed, for the light of Christmas is a light that emerges into the darkness. There is no greater darkness than hatred, yet there is no greater light than God's love in our hearts. And the light shall shine away the darkness. That is the promise of Christmas. If hatred is the greatest sin, then who among us is not a sinner? May God forgive us for our hatred, have mercy upon us and show us His love. Having felt it, may we learn to share it.
And war shall be no more.
Posted by Marianne at December 25, 2004 9:53 PM