At this ancient Solstice time, when the great trees are honored (with the conifer in the living room), and the power of fire and return of the sun is invoked (with the burning of candles and the splashes of electric lights on our houses), the birth of Jesus, great dissident and rebel, is celebrated by many.
In our present era of mind-numbing consumerism, increasing disparity between the rich and the poor, obvious collusion between corporations and the state, and bold attacks on our constitutional rights by the government we pay taxes to, it’s worth a moment to consider what Jesus did, and why he is remembered.
Jesus was the champion of the common people in their struggle against the state and corporate powers-that-be. He defied mighty Rome, and courageously defended the poor, the dispossessed, and the undocumented against the empire. Jesus’ story of resistance to violent state power begins even before his birth – we remember that his parents were on a forced march back to their village of origin, where they could be more easily controlled and taxed, when he was born. And this struggle against the capricious and cruel state consumed his short life, which ended in his murder by his oppressors, the governors of Rome. He was killed because his message of beloved community and resistance to militarization was a real threat to their plans for expansion.
So please, let’s “keep Christ in Christmas” and recognize the reason for the season: The hope that we human beings will continue the struggle to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, and learn to celebrate our time together, helping one another to live in a world of abundance and courage, rather than scarcity and fear.