Its been a while. Its been rather busy. Work especially has been deadline-heavy, so roll on the post-cutoff calm – and Christmas.
And yes, Christmas is about to roll around once more and once again I try to cope with the northern immigrant dissonance of a winter festival in the middle of summer. I know European settlement in Australia is only 200 years old but I guess I must be a bit tied to the pagan ways of following the seasons. I do wish we had a midwinter celebration of lights here to help literally enlighten the winter. And then celebrate midsummer at Christmas time instead of copying the northern hemisphere in its images of a snowy landscaped Christmas.
And then there’s the whole Christ story itself. I used to be a strict catholic, brought up by strict catholics, but as I grew older I started to question what kind of God thought it necessary to allow his son to be tortured to death. What kind of rule said that had to happen. He’s god after all, he could make and break rules with impunity. If he chose not to do that, then I chose not to keep company with that particular deity.
Same for the virgin birth thing. When you read past the gloss of deification its a rotten way for a baby to come into the world with an unwed mother forced to travel far so near to delivery time, with no accommodation at the end, giving birth in a byre just so daddy god could prove the point that he’s still ‘from the block’. Hmm it begins to smell like something a human of limited imagination would write, rather than an all knowing deity.
Don’t get me wrong, Jesus is one of my heroes. He stood up and spoke of love in a time and place that was decidedly short of it. His words – his true words, not the edited gospel ones – talk of new ideas about actually loving your neighbour. He didn’t make any rules about condoms or gay people or the evils of marrying a protestant (one of the biggies from my childhood). He just said that the greatest law was to love the creator, and to love your neighbour as you love yourself. You can spend your whole life just trying to get that little bundle right without anything else. Everything else was added by us humans under the Jesus brand.
So, even for us pagan heathens, there’s something in the Jesus story to celebrate and reflect upon. The love for a baby, the fellowship with the animals and our position here together upon the earth. The baby depends on his parents for survival, we humans depend on our animals and our plants for survival. We’re all part of the chain of life and throughout that chain we need to apply what we know to make it better for all.
Enjoy the run up to the holiday, enjoy reflecting on what it means for you, and wherever you are hold your people and your animal companions close to your heart because they are what its all about.