Yesterday, when sharing in the first Carol Service of the year I received a wonderful gift, a gift of unconditional love and grace. The giver was genuine and warm and loving, naturally so, the gift came in the form of a hug and a kiss, and then another hug, it was beautifully and genuinely given by the young woman with sever learning difficulties, she had chosen a carol, and was excited about Christmas, rejoicing in even the smallest things.
It would have been easy to dismiss the gift, or even to walk away from it without receiving it, but it stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking, there was so much goodness in it. There is so much goodness, so much of the divine, of God in each and every one of us.
The longer I continue in the Christian faith the more convinced I am that original goodness is how we were created, it is our true nature and state, a nature and state that becomes marred by life, by our own egos, and by the hurts and knocks that we experience, and much of the time our task is to find our true selves, our God-dreamed selves, breathed into life by the one who calls us good .
Of course like many my early encounters with Christianity taught me that I was bad by nature, that I was broken and flawed and sinful, by nature, I needed saving from myself. These days, while I am able to accept my brokenness and flaws, and yes even my sin, I don’t believe that I was born in sin, I don’t believe that anyone is born in sin!
So who are we and what are we then, we are beloved of God, created for a relationship with the divine, we contain within ourselves ( sometimes well hidden) a divine spark that seeks its source and completion in the Christ Spirit, a life that Jesus perfectly modeled for us, and a life that he calls us into, showing us that they way to life is through death to our ego-selves, our sinful selves. He is our pattern, and yes by his death, so horrific and so public, he has called us into often smaller deaths that we might rise to new life in and with him.
This is a deep mystery, the more I try to explain it, even to myself, the deeper it becomes, until God breaks through my pondering and deliberations in the simple act of a hug and a kiss, and expressions of joy for the gift of the Christ-child, a gift of glorious divine madness. Then just as the babe in Elizabeth’s womb tumbled within her to welcome the child in Mary’s womb, light, so I sensed the divine spark within me respond to love that was shown so freely…
I only wish that I was more aware of who I am in Christ, known and loved, accepted and freed from the things that drag me down, from my sin ( which I believe is anything that separates me from God), I wish I could live out the joy of my condition more fully, more graciously and more… well just more….
So perhaps rather than going on and writing more and more, I can leave you this offering from the book of Colossians to meditate upon today:
15-18 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
18-20 He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.
21-23 You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message (Colossians 1: 15-23)
Then some thoughts from Richard Rhor’s meditation today:
At the heart of Scotus’ theology was the doctrine of the primacy of Christ. God is absolutely free and therefore if he [sic] creates it is because he wants to create. He wants to create in order to reveal and communicate his goodness and love to another. Because God loves, he wills that his creation should also be infused by love.
St. Paul tells us that Christ was the “first-born of all creation” [see Colossians 1:15], and Scotus’ theology makes sense of this affirmation. The incarnation in Scotus’ theology is the whole purpose of creation. Christ is the masterpiece of love in the midst of a creation designed for love, not a divine plumber come to fix the mess of original sin.
Perhaps the greatest gift we can give this Christmas-time is the gift of our true selves to ourselves and to others, perhaps this is where we will find Christ at work…