A good person has been taken captive in Baghdad. As I pen this reflection he is still being held. He is a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams and is a person of peace and peace making. This Advent/Christmas has taken on an urgent meaning.
I wonder if Jesus wants us to think about Him this Christmas. Would he consider that to be misplaced? Should our minds and hearts be centred not on the Jesus of history but on the divine presence incarnate in history, culture and the body politic? Is it not that to which Jesus pointed? He did not speak of himself but of the Reign of God in history and time. Maybe our questions should be: Who are we? Who do we carry around inside of us? It is said that Christmas is not about the victory of any empire, god, tribe or human enterprise. It is not history written by the conquerors. It is a story about the non-conquerors, the unsuccessful, the non-empire builders. Christmas is a story of an outsider, a child being born on the run, the immigrant and the refugee. The wisdoms of the world in the Magi come to this child of Christmas. It is in this story that Christians find their roots and their politics. The Resurrections reminds us that life is stronger than death. Christmas tells us where this truth is to be found and a life lived. It is in solidarity with the broken, the wounded, the marginal, the outsider that we find our hope and our meaning. This is the message of the Christmas story.
In the scriptures Jesus points to the outsider as the bearer of incarnate wisdom. It is the Samaritan Woman at the well and the Good Samaritan on the journey who see clearly. Jesus reminds the Samaritan woman that “people now will no longer worship in the Temple nor on the Mountain but rather in Spirit and Truth.” The Good Samaritan sees, has compassion, touches, binds up wounds, takes the person fallen among robbers to an Inn to be looked after promising to give more if more is needed. Why did the priest and the Levite pass by? They were not bad persons. Maybe the Samaritan – the outsider – could see, have compassion, touch because he was not loaded down with baggage of doctrines, liturgies, moralities and purity cults that prevented the Priest and the Levite on their way from seeing the incarnate divine presence in the one who had fallen among robbers.
Let us celebrate Christmas with the awareness that we do not stop with the child but that we ourselves give birth to the ‘divine child’ – incarnate wisdom on a regular basis in our children, in our creativity, in our work, in all our relationships. Jim Loney is such a person.