Christmas is alive and well! Consumption is again king and queen, at least for those who have money to spend. Colorful lights yield beauty. Carols and secular songs paint musical images of the season. People fuel up their vehicles, purchase plane tickets, train tickets, bus tickets to go home or connect with significant others. Places of worship are overflowing, necessitating extra services. Candle light services are especially appealing. Christmas time is an “orgy of activity”.All because of a celebration of the birth of Jesus. What is it about Jesus’ birth that stirs such outpourings? I would suggest first of all that we need beginnings. Jesus’ beginning was the beginning of something totally renewing and life giving in a broken world. We are constantly crying out for new beginnings, for the energy to start over, for the hope of new possibilities! Second, it is because of the totality of Jesus’ life, and how his message, his character, his mission transformed history.
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the troublemakers,
the round pegs in the square holes…. The ones who see
things differently – they are not fond of rules…. You can
quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them,
but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they
change things…. They push the human race forward, and
while some may see them as crazy ones, we see genius,
because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can
change the world, are the ones who do.”
These words were spoken at Steve Jobs’ memorial service.
As metaphor, they also describe Jesus. And his actions began at birth. Jesus was born in poverty during a time of Roman occupation. The historian Tacitus describes Roman rule: “To plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname empire: they make a desert and they call it peace.”
Into this desert, Jesus’ birth was a life of contrast and conflict with Roman rule: nonviolence instead of violence, justice instead of war, healing instead of the sword, words instead of oppression, forgiveness instead of retribution, grace instead of greed, reconciliation instead of walls, love instead of hate, peace instead of domination.
Borg and Crossan describe the Christmas story as “a subversive parable.” Subversive stories help us see differently. They subvert the conventional ways of seeing. Similarly, parables are metaphors.
I recall a line from the movie “Zorba the Greek”. Zorba is trying to loosen up an uptight Britisher. He tells the Brit, “You must learn to be crazy! You must learn to dance!”(or words to that effect).
I think God realized that the world needed this craziness! Craziness clothed as a misfit. Misfit swaddled as a child. Child who would bring to life the words from Isaiah: “Comfort, O comfort my people…. Wonderful Counselor…, Prince of Peace…. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid…, and a little child shall lead them…. They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain…. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…. proclaim liberty to the captives…. proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…. for I the Lord love justice.”
Here’s to the Misfit!
A joyous Christmas to all!