Tag Archives: christmas

christmas, sin and innocence

kayden, a baby the christian story is one that keeps intriguing and baffling me. what is this thing that we’re celebrating today?

in the mountainous region of the german speaking alps, where i grew up, the image of the naked little baby jesus in the manger is the predominant one for the christmas story. maybe this is one of the things that pulls us so, maybe this is part of the new covenant: replacing sin with innocence.

not that i know what sin is, or what innocence is, but i have a sense of them: that innocence is the fresh, unspoiled purity of a newborn – oh, more than that: it is the embodiment of the deep, all-loving awe that inspires us as we see, feel, connect with such a precious being.

sin, on the other hand, that word makes me think of burden, of separation, defilement and the destruction of innocence – an image that comes up is that horrible one, of the newborn thrown out in the garbage.

this is extreme. both images, in fact, are extreme, and if we pitch them against each other, we will only experience unhappiness. what can we do, then, and, seeing that today is christmas eve, what can we take from the image of the newborn baby jesus?

i know that nothing will stay fresh or unspoiled forever – be it a newborn, a landscape, a beautiful object, a relationship. that includes my relationship with the divine. but what i also know is that purity appears again and again, and even more so, that i can always reach for that deep, all-loving awe. i can always keep my heart open for that, and that will, i hope, protect me. maybe not from the smaller burdens that i heap upon myself and others as i imperfectly walk through the day, unmindful and disconnected so often, hurtful sometimes. i fervently hope, though, that the knowledge, memory and experience of the purity of this all-loving awe will protect me from the ultimate sin of throwing away that wondrous goodness.

and that even if i do, there is a chance that the ever-returning purity of love and grace will touch me and awaken me from sin, that this awakening will come in the middle of that cold night and touch me with its light.

this is what i muse today, this christmas eve morning. may you all be blessed.

last minute, long-lasting christmas gifts

if you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that i’m generally not a big fan of prayers sent along via emails, or similar material (see my rant against the email with the prayer of saint theresa, for example). but once in a while something comes along in my inbox that really touches me.

here is a suggestion for a whole different sort of christmas gifts:

mend a quarrel.
seek out a forgotten friend.
write a long overdue love note.
hug someone tightly and whisper, “i love you so.”
forgive an enemy.
be gentle and patient with an angry person.
gladden the heart of a child.
find the time to keep a promise.
make or bake something for someone else. anonymously.
release a grudge.
listen.
speak kindly to a stranger.
enter into another’s sorrow.
smile.
laugh a little.
laugh a little more.
take a walk with a friend.
lessen your demands on others.
play some beautiful music during the evening meal.
apologize if you were wrong.
turn off the television and talk.
treat someone to an ice-cream cone (yogurt would be fine).
do the dishes for the family.
pray for someone who helped you when you hurt.
fix breakfast on saturday morning.
give a soft answer even though you feel strongly.
encourage an older person.
point out one thing you appreciate most about someone you work with or live near.
offer to baby-sit for a weary mother.

(it turns out this comes from day by day with charles swindoll)

three family blessings

christmas day. after a nice walk through the winter snow here in kelowna, we just came back from one of our numerous big traditional family get-togethers during the holiday season. once again i’m struck by how easygoing and friendly my husband’s big clan is. what are they doing right?

snow on a kelowna winter night

  1. they are tolerant – and it’s a tolerance that, i’m sure, doesn’t always come easy. when the kids grew up, for example, i assume grandma and grandpa didn’t envision that most of them were going to marry outside of their ethnic origin.
  2. they keep gossip to a minimum, and it’s never mean. people talk, of course, and in every family there are things that ask for commentary. but i’ve never heard a “can you believe …”. never heard any juicy details dragged through the mud.
  3. they don’t burden people with big expectations. i never felt that i “had” to do anything. some people help with the dishes, others don’t. some send christmas cards, others don’t. there might be some mild eyebrow raising once in a while when a wish is not fulfilled – but no biggie, it’s all good.

i’m very grateful to be part of this family. and i wish you all that you, too, can experience a tolerant, discreet and uncomplicated family life.

(photo by LN)

(this article was included in the gonzo gratitude carnival

merry christmas, spammers!

beautiful christmas lights over the citya few years ago on easter, first united church in vancouver’s downtown eastside carried a cross through the neighbourhood. it was a big, simple cross – and there were needles stuck all over it. the christ of the drug addicts. an image i will never forget.

there is much about the message of the new testament that i don’t comprehend. one thing that i get, though, is that jesus hung out and opened his arms to the underdogs – nah, to the dogs that were so low, they were kicked by the underdogs. he offered himself to the lowest and dumbest of thieves, to the cheapest of hookers, to the stinkiest of lepers.

if christmas is where this message of peace, hope, joy and love began, then to whom would jesus direct his message on the internet? who are the lowest of the low?

the spammers, the child pornographers, the trolls, the nigerian scammers.

peace, hope, joy and love to the nigerian scammers, many of whom are motivated by the desperation that grows in countries riddled with unimaginable poverty, disease and violence.

peace, hope, joy and love to the child pornographers, many of whom are driven by an appetite they don’t know how to control, and many of whom have had disturbing experiences when they were children. there but for the grace of god go those of us who have experienced some healing around such experiences.

peace, hope, joy and love to the trolls, who want to be part of the blogging community. they have strong opinions and strong feelings. they do something that many of us would secretly like to do – just blurt it all out.

and peace, hope, joy and love to the spammers, who are driven by a desire to find the pot of gold at the end of the internet rainbow. haven’t most of us had dreams like this, in one shape or another?

i don’t know any of you – spammers, child pornographers, nigerian scammers, trolls. again, that is the sign of the lowest of the low – they are nameless, faceless, we have no connection with them. so how can i reach out? how can we connect? how can we get to know each other? i was going to say, how can i reach out without getting hurt? but i don’t remember jesus saying that. so reaching out is risky …

perhaps a small risk i can incur is to let my guard down for even a moment. i think i’ll disable akismet for a few minutes. let at least some spammers in. see if there is a way of connecting.

merry christmas to all.

(photo by darcie of interestingness)