Friday, January 27, 2012

The Rebel Jesus

It has been my tradition to write a few posts about Christmas every year.  Most years however, it is well after the Christmas season.  For one thing, it is hard to consider the actual Christmas message for me right at Christmas time.  Does that sound silly?

At Christmas we are inundated with creepy stories of people going into violent frenzies, hurting each other in Walmart or Kmart so they can get the best deals on Christmas presents for their loved ones.  Hmmm.

This is from the Christian Science Monitor on 11-26-11

Aisle-bumping, line-cutting, and parking lot rudeness is to be expected on Black Friday, the annual post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza. This year's event, however, saw more mayhem than usual as throngs of competitive shoppers tussled and growled over waffle irons and Xboxes, with altercations turning violent in at least seven states.
As in years past, stories of "competitive shopping" gone bad abounded, but with a new edge.
In Los Angeles, a woman pepper-sprayed at least 20 fellow shoppers to save some money on an Xbox console, paying up and getting out before cops arrived. In Ohio and Michigan, women "came out swinging" over discounted bath towels. The results were at times serious, with several shootings reported and one confrontation ending with a grandfather lying bloodied and unconscious.

The hustle and bustle, the pressure for getting the right gifts, getting out Christmas cards, the regifting, the gift exchanging, the gift cards for those we care a little about but not enough to think deeply about a present.  There is a national sense of economic well-being from people overspending at Christmas and a darkness that falls when sales aren't what we expect.  If we, as a people, spend less than the year before it is a bad sign for our economy.
Even the term 'BLACK FRIDAY' is sort of creepy.   "Black Friday" indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are "in the black". (Wikipedia)  

How many times have you seen signs that say, "KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS" or "JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON" or hear of people who get angry at stores because their employees are saying, "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"?  To me, Christmas is the time when we wear our hypocrisy on our sleeves.  We may put a bumper sticker on our car or cry out against the commercialization of Christmas, but what do we really do to demonstrate our sincerity?  It seems to me that most of us go out and define materialism by our annual habits.  
At Christmas time this year, the Downtown Church in Columbia, SC stood out from the messages I have heard over the years at the many other churches I have attended.  The band played one of my favorite Christmas songs, Jackson Browne's "The Rebel Jesus".   My son Colin played in that service.  
Realizing that I too buy into the materialistic aspect of the holiday season, I write this thinking about the real meaning of the season and in an effort to make myself more mindful of Jesus' message that we must all be about the business of making this world a better place.
  For everyone.  
Merry Christmas!
(I didn't get out my cards this year.)

All the streets are filled with laughter and light 
And the music of the season 
And the merchants' windows are all bright 
With the faces of the children 
And the families hurrying to their homes 
As the sky darkens and freezes 
They'll be gathering around the hearths and tables 
Giving thanks for all God's graces 
And the birth of the rebel Jesus 

Well they call him by the prince of peace 
And they call him by the savior 
And they pray to him upon the seas 
And in every bold endeavor 
As they fill his churches with their pride and gold 
And their faith in him increases 
But they've turned the nature that I worshipped in 
From a temple to a robber's den 
In the words of the rebel Jesus 

We guard our world with locks and guns 
And we guard our fine possessions 
And once a year when Christmas comes 
We give to our relations 
And perhaps we give a little to the poor 
If the generosity should seize us 
But if any one of us should interfere 
In the business of why they are poor 
They get the same as the rebel Jesus 

But please forgive me if I seem 
To take the tone of judgement 
For I've no wish to come between 
This day and your enjoyment 
In this life of hardship and of earthly toil 
We have need for anything that frees us 
So I bid you pleasure 
And I bid you cheer 
From a heathen and a pagan 
On the side of the rebel Jesus.

1 comment:

Chris Hass said...

I recall that you sang this one for me a few weeks ago. I love that verse about being persecuted if you dare question why the poor are poor.

Jackson shared a news article last week about a teen-aged homeless girl who won a science competition and, subsequently, wound up with a house for her family. We spent some time looking at the photo of this beautiful girl whose mother was in a car crash and couldn't work. We noticed that she didn't fit the stereotype of homelessness. It made me think of that session you and I attended a few years ago where district counselors talked about the surprisingly high number of homeless students we have attending Richland 2 schools.