Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Friday, December 20, 2019

Jesus, the unexpected

There he is.  In the temple again
Causing trouble
Speaking very differently from other preachers
Speaking with authority about sorrow, anxiety, sickness and death
Penetrating the dark corners of human existence
Shattering illusions
Make no mistake about it
This is a dangerous man
                     Martin Bell, The Way of the Wolf

There he is in the manger
Surrounded by animals
Surrounded by outcasts and losers
Surrounded by Magi, heretics from afar

There he is already
On day one
Jesus the revolutionary

Hanging about on the fringes of society
God, slumming it

So it began
And it never changed

Interesting isn’t it, how no one of note showed up
When this king was born
No priests
No Sadducees
No Pharisees

No one with power
No one with wealth

Just those outside the circle of blessing

So it began
And it never changed
He called his disciples from the working poor
He hung out with aliens and outcasts
With Romans, and tax collectors
Widows and lepers
The cripples and the mentally ill

He said he came to set the prisoner free
He said he came to heal the sick

And he said he came to find and save lost

But who were the lost?

The manger gives us the answer
Those who did not find their way to the manger were the lost
Those who did not leave all behind and follow the carpenter were the lost

Herod was lost
The Sadducees and Pharisees were lost
The rich were lost
The arrogant were lost

Not the poor,
Not the sinners
Not those who knew they needed saving

Jesus was a minister to the poor
Jesus was a prophet who challenged the very
Structures and ideologies that kept them poor

He redefined lost
He redefined blessed

And nothing has changed
I suspect Jesus is not to be found in the great cathedrals
In the auditoriums of the megachurches
With their smoke and lights
And audio visuals
And pretentious preachers

I suspect Jesus is not to be found in the halls of power
In Congress
Or the White House
Or in the Board Rooms of big corporations
Or in the corner offices of the obscenely wealthy

Not because Jesus doesn’t want to be there
But because when one is full of power
And focused on wealth

There is little room for “the way”

When one has it all
The last thing one wants, is one who
Calls one to “give it all up”
(Just as the rich young ruler)

The last thing one really wants is “the way” revealed in the manger
The way revealed by Jesus

That way that demands sacrifice
That way which asks us to give all we have and follow
Which asks us to take care of the poor, whether we think they deserve it, or not
And welcome the stranger, whether we are comfortable with them, or not
Which asks us to give to receive
Be to servants rather than rulers

Which asks us to die in order to live

So there he is
In the manger
He looks harmless now
But already the signs are there
This is a dangerous man

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