In recent years, I have attended Christmas Eve Services with family, and have been fine with them as times for families and friends to get together and celebrate the birth of Jesus. There has been lots of singing and prayer at services over the years, and while some of it is not in line with my belief structure, I have been good with it over all.
This year, not so much. The prayers were virtually all about how unworthy we all are of the great gift that is being given, that God, who is far outside and above us is out of our reach, even though we are calling HIM Immanuel (God with us). People were standing and waving their arms in the air, even as each hymn and prayer seemed more and more exclusionary.
I was sad and then I was angry. Everything was so antithetical to my understanding. An omnipresent God is everywhere - within, through and around each of us. In this group, however, even little children were separate from God, according to the words being intoned in the service.
Finally they closed by saying Jesus was born just to die for us. So, I guess all his lessons about loving one another, and social justice and caring for each other have no meaning? I am so sad that the couple of hundred people in that room, and my family members in particular, actually believe that.
Our faith likes to say that we honor all paths to God, and I am really having a hard time with this one I just experienced. For years, I have seen Jesus differently from what I was taught in church, and the work of the Jesus Seminars and our newer theologians have helped expand my thoughts even further.
Most recently, I came upon the work of Robin Meyers. First I read Saving Jesus from the Church, and am now reading his work The Underground Church. Both of them deal with the idea of how to stop worshiping the Christ and start following Jesus. It is a lot like the idea of not worshiping the finger pointing at the moon and thereby missing the whole moon.
This is the Jesus I fell in love with as a young woman - Jesus the man, the way-shower, the great example... or as Meyers calls it “reclaiming the subversive way of Jesus.”
A bit over a year ago I began questioning what the next step in my ministry might be... it has been evolving, and I am coming to find that it is time to let my crazy subversive heretic out to play. There is no time left to play it safe. It is time to begin going where I am called and seeing if anyone follows.
The key sentence that calls me? “Before the gospel got turned into just another marketing strategy, it contained the two most powerful words ever to address the sickness of the age: fear not.” The time has come to cast aside fear and let the soul lead.