The two quotes below are foundational to my understanding of God and Christ consciousness, by whatever names, and to the spiritual practice of my daily life. While the quotes are from the Judeo-Christian tradition perspective, my study of other traditions supports that these perspectives are represented in them as well thus they are universal in their applicability.
The first quote is from Marcus Borg, a New Testament theologian and author. And the second quote is from Walter Brueggemann, an Old Testament theologian and author. Both are highly respected scholars and teachers in their fields and have written prodigiously.
Both quotes below address the non-partisan aspect of the political nature of Jesus’ Way and ancient Israel’s resistance to the dominant imperial Empires. They are political because they affect the way in which we live together in community. Their practice in our personal and collective lives includes resistance to the imperial accounts of reality grounded in power, control, and violence and the advocacy of alternative realities grounded in radical grace and radical love of authentic communities of belonging.
“The way of Jesus was both personal and political. It was about personal transformation. And it was political, a path of [nonviolent] resistance to the domination system and advocacy of an alternative vision of life together under God.”
“….the tradition of emancipatory covenant making….affirms human agents who have the capacity and responsibility to act transformatively for the well-being of the human community and the ecology of creation. All of that pertains to the ancient context wherein the subversive narrative of Israel lived in ongoing tension with imperial accounts of reality, and amid that tension resisted imperial accounts while proposing alternatives.”
-Walter Brueggemann- “God, Neighbor, Empire”
And so we see that our struggles today against the imperialistic Empire’s accounts of reality (i.e., our resistance to insurrectionists attacking our democracy) in their dominant power, control, and violence are age old in their tensions between violent domination vis-a-vis liberation and freedom to live together in alternative communities of the Truth of Self and the authenticity of belonging. Until all are free none are free. The suffering of the other is also my suffering. So we resist and dream our dreams and see our visions of a better way together for which we must never stop working.
When we personally face the Universal Cosmic Christ
at the nativity and at the foot of the cross, we are faced with two authentic choices: surrender or resist.
Are we seeing the embodiment of Supreme Love or a threat to our worldly way of life?
To whom or what are we loyal?
To whom or what do we surrender?
The powerful and the rich are filled with fear and trembling at the nativity and the cross, and the least of us sing Hallelujah!
There is no serving two masters, a life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. Our life is shaped by the end for which we live.
Note: The Universal Cosmic Christ, by whatever name and tradition, is the embodiment of radical grace and radical love among us and to which we are born, long for, suffer, are resurrected, and live everlasting. Although I use Christian symbolism here, many religious, spiritual, and native traditions embody these truths. And in the mystical traditions, this relationship between the lover and their Beloved is often portrayed as the passionate love between two lovers. The attached music video ‘Surrender’ by Natalie Taylor is a lovely example of this mystical lover/Beloved passion and surrender.
My reflection above reflects the teachings and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas Merton, and Richard Rohr who have heavily influenced my spiritual journey as mentor’s.
For you Beloveds this Christmas Eve with All Our Love
poem: blue Christmas tears
Christmas is not a one size fits all
it is multicultural and reflects many traditions
it is not all Merry Christmas
and ‘hail fellow well met’
we are not mid-nineteenth century Victorians
or all fans of secular Santa
nor do we all cherish the ‘true meaning’
of tenderness for the baby Jesus
and sentimentality for the manger scene
in the children’s play,
charities for the poor,
and candle light and caroling services
on these longest nights of winter
there are those for who ‘Merry Christmas’ is frivolity
and who no matter how gay or true the festivities,
they will experience grief, suffering, brokenness, loneliness,
these blue feelings and pains only finding some relief
in a return to ordinary time
Beloveds, let us see and hear one another
keeping one another in our hearts and prayers
bearing one another up always through grace and love
sharing our deepest truth together, wiping tears,
walking each other home with hope and peace,
certainly the most true meaning of all
here&now working poetry
Christmas Eve 2020
photo by Herb Stone
Blue Winter Night in Snow
(reader’s note: I searched for a poem, a quote, a song
about blue Christmas and found nothing satisfactory,
so I wrote this poem in an effort to express some
conversations I have had with Beloveds
over the last few days concerning their struggles
at this time of the year. And especially this year
which has left us scarred and seperated from political
division, injustice, and the pandemic. Many can not be
with family due to estrangement, or covid restrictions,
or separation, religious services are canceled, many
without jobs and income. Yet we always have each other
in our shared suffering and deepest needs. Let us always
see one another, hear one another, reach out to one another
in mutual grace and love which is after all the highest
meaning of all in the sharing of Universal Cosmic Christ
Consciousness by whatever name we know it.)
It is relatively easy for most of us to believe in Jesus as a sweet babe in the manger and to dwell on this peaceful image. However, Jesus matures and later resists the Empire’s Kings and Caesars and their oppression and social injustices. This mature rebel Jesus can be much more difficult for many to accept.
Jesus’ entire birth, life, death, and resurrection were in resistance to the ways of this worldly Imperialistic Empire, and its systems of power, control, domination, and violence.
Jesus, and his family, were under the Empire’s suffocating control from the moment of his birth on the dirt floor of that animal stall with only some straw as a blanket. They had traveled to Bethlehem for the King’s census so the King could know all that he possessed, controlled, and dominated in his Empire. Then they had to suddenly flee to Egypt to escape the King’s infanticide which was an effort to kill the baby Jesus to eliminate his threat to the Empire.
Jesus’ entire adult ministry was in resistance to the contemporary religious and political powers of that time that imposed the letter of the law and not it’s spirit thereby oppressing and marginalizing all the common people of that time and place in often the most cruel ways.
Jesus’ radical resistance was his Good News of the kingdom of God, and its’ alternative community, grounded in grace, love, mercy, distributive justice, peace, and hope! At this time, oppressed people were clamoring for a Messiah who would be their King and vanquish the worldly Empire of the Kings and Emperors. The authorities were afraid that Jesus might be this ‘King of the people’ that they were waiting for and thus saw him as a threat leading to his being constantly under the suspicion and surveillance of the authorities and ultimately resulting in his cruel crucifixion on the cross.
At the time of his coming before the authorities and being crucified, because Jesus had not violently destroyed the kings and their Empires but rather demonstrated peaceful resistance, he was mocked, spat on, scourged, whipped, stripped, denied, abandoned, and killed in the most cruel way possible by the Empire, its religious collaborators, and those same people who called him Messiah.
Because the Cosmic Christ, the savior and hope of the world, never stops resisting the evil Empires of this world and never stops calling for the peaceful, diverse, inclusive neighborly community of God’s kin-dom, we must never stop witnessing and resisting the contemporary Empire of today’s world where we now live and are all still pawns in the oppressor’s control and domination.
This Advent, be a witness and resist the ways of this world, its’ Empires, and their systems of domination which separate us from God! It is the Christ-like thing to do all year long.