Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What Are You Hoping For This Christmas?

“What are you hoping for this Christmas,” the young woman ringing up my book purchase asked me happily.

“A real Christian,” I said without pausing, thinking, or even looking up from the credit card slip I was signing.

“Excuse me?” she said.

“A real Christian,” I repeated. “You know someone who truly loves Jesus. Someone who teaches us that God is love and to be with God is to be loving; someone who isn’t afraid of other people’s sexuality; someone who isn’t afraid of other people’s religions; someone who knows that God’s house has many mansions, and that a day is coming when we won’t worship God in church, synagogue, mosque, or temple, but in the spirit, in pure contentless awareness; someone who refuses to bow to injustice whether perpetrated by governments, religions, corporations, or ordinary individuals; someone who helps us see the beam in our own eye rather than the splinter in the eye of our neighbor.”

“Isn’t that Jesus,” she asked. “Aren’t you describing Jesus Christ? Are you saying you want Jesus for Christmas?”

“We don’t need Jesus. We had Jesus. We need Christians, true followers of Jesus of who think what he thought and do what he did.”

“You mean die for our sins?”

“No, I mean, live for our promise. Jesus showed us what we can be. We just never took him seriously. As soon as we could we turned his teaching inside out making believing in Christ rather than living like Jesus our central theme. Jesus came and taught us to love one another. Then we killed him. Then we killed his message in his name.”

“The Jews killed Jesus,” she said.

“Even if they did, and in fact they didn’t, they only killed him once, but we kill him every Sunday; every Sunday when we walk into church and pretend that Jesus died for our sins rather than lived for our promise. We are killing him, killing others, killing all hope that we can ever be the children God we were created to be. The first Christmas was the last Christmas. That first Christmas God sent us the gift of radical hope and a new way of living, and every year since we refuse to accept the gift, and instead worship the wrapping.”

The woman just stared at me for a moment, then noticing the line of shoppers behind me, she said hesitantly, “Next.”


Ian Lawton said...

Thankyou Rami. Thats a Christmas promise I can relate to, and one you model in a profound way

Eruesso said...

wow! That has got to be the clearest description of what a Christian should be that I've ever heard. One of my favorite postings to date.

Patti said...

Not by my choosing, some of my closest Christian friends found out about my recent change in faith perspective. It has been awkward, to say the least. They truly have no idea how to act around me any longer. Part of the issue is that I was their teacher. Where do they turn when their mentor has turned? I so want to send them this blog, just to give them a glimpse of the brilliance and clarity of focusing on the life and promise verses the death and fixative. But what do you say, “Merry Christmas – Jesus is dead?”

I denied the need to spill my beans, silly me. When I became a vegetarian they rolled their eyes and took a step back. I don’t even understand why I have changed; I can’t begin to explain it to them. I always felt like I was here to guide and be guided by this small group of loved mothers and sisters. Now I am on the outside. So Jesus died and we kill him everyday. I get it. I want to live the promise and not the death. I get it, and can flourish there, but still I feel Merry Frickn’ Christmas to me.

Rabbi Rami said...

Thanks for the kudos. As to Patti's plight. I get it. That is why I no longer take students. I felt the need to support their beliefs rather than share my own search. They weighed me down, and robbed me of the freedom to be me.

Thank God for this blog and all of you! I still have the need to share my thoughts, and TOTO has been a great release for me. All the more so when I know such thoughtful people are reading it. But don't imagine I am trying to teach you anything. I am only thinking out loud.

Love to you all,

hall2052 said...

Excellent depth of thought here Rami. You have eloquently put enough thoughts on paper to fuel the engine of my thoughts on faith and belief. I welcome company on the journey!