Posts Tagged ‘Santa’


Years ago I had the blessing of being asked to preach at a Moravian church on the Christmas eve service. But what does one talk about in the ideals of love at this time of year? How does one reflect on the Christmas story? The shattering of patriarchal roles in Matthew and Luke- Joseph informed if he truly is holy he’d follow Mary’s lead, and Mary being ASKED for consent to be the Christ-bearer. Where it was first announced to the lowliest, for the Love of God (truly, the underlying story of the Hebrew Bible) is open. Yet, what also struck me, is a thread of social gospel.

Today’s centering hymn, listen here.

For it was a story, the census, of groups of oppressed, conquered people under empire (colonialism), where there was active and passive genocide. The count was for taxes, but I would also reckon it was to ensure the Non-Romans were being kept culled and in check. It was the creation of a peoples of episodic homelessness. Those that for times each year would need to travel, and be without stable housing.

See the source image

This was Mary and Joseph.

This was there story entering into Bethlehem, a place they were not wanted, a place where there literally was no room at the Inn. A place, where I can imagine the journey to, and the journey through, they heard many racial and hate filled things and stereotypes. What gremlins would be emerging in Joseph’s mind during this journey with his newly pregnant betrothed? Would this be the first time Mary had seen the evil of the world? or was she, perhaps, at nine months pregnant, feeling safer than she had ever felt in her life from the leering Roman soldiers? The religious oppressors leers?

See the source image

When one finally sees the night, I wonder how much the Inn Keeper’s wife prodded to ensure safety as darkness descended? What was unknown to these weary travelers? Yet, here was love of neighbour even in its awkwardness of offering up the stable. Sometimes, when the storm is raging it is the only option-the challenge for us is to not let the port when the storm is raging (i.e. homeless shelters, fractured government entitlements, foodbanks) become the institutional solution of love when there is better options to show care for our fellow citizens and ourselves (i.e. affordable housing, universal basic income, community gardens, full public education, universal pharmacare, expanding universal health care to include optical, dental, mental health; public day care (with monies for families that have a caregiver at home); oh and as Covid has proven, public and properly funded long term care for our elders).

This is another root of the nativity story, small glimmers, love open for everyone that society said had to qualify for existence, God’s star shone. The light shattered through the darkness showing the simplest of paths, to what should be the safest of spaces:

H-O-M-E.

For home, is not the place we exist, rather it is the place where our true selves, how we were created to be, is birthed into this world.

Benediction hymn here.

What is your home?

What is being born within you for 2021?


Historically we know that Jesus was not born at Christmas time. It is symbolic, but what a powerful symbol. Overlaying the ancient Winter Solstice celebration, it becomes a breathing allegory of the Gospel of John 1…the light in the darkness. This is what the Johannine Community resonated with. Mysticism. Living rituals to understand faith in action. John wrote beautifully of this in the fourth chapter. A great reflection for the liturgical season of Advent. Advent is waiting, and preparing. It is a journey into the darkest day, when light is born, and the days keep getting brighter from there.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

-Epistle of 1 John 4:1-6 (English Standard Version)

Holy visions since the early Church have taken the form of Mary of Nazareth, Jesus’ mother. This is because she can easily bring the story of Love and Hope without the baggage the institution has laid on her son. It is the resonating message of the gospel, in a different form. Sadly, yes the anti-christs have co-opted the spiritual life and teachers for many forms of evil.. terrorism, pedophilia, rape, fraud, money laundering, wealth building, oppression, and political power. This is why sometimes the messenger has to be different than the way that the Holy Mystery came in Brother Jesus. Yet there are many paths for the love light to shine in our world.

At this time of year the greatest reminder is the jolly elf himself, as my son terms him in his spastic verbalness, “ho ho ho”. That’s right: Santa Claus. The spirit of joy and giving this season.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

-Epistle of 1 John 4:7-21 (English Standard Version)

Some like to default to the rampant consumerism. But miss the point, there are always those that will look for the darkness in the light. Not the fact that it brings together community, it is a time to celebrate. It is also a time of year in which the story of the creche (as Francis of Assisi was the first to bring to life) is about a family in which the world had no room for them. Sadly, the fastest growing demographic of homelessness in Calgary is like the Holy Family of the Nativity. 30 years ago the Government of Canada pledged to eradicate child poverty in Canada, and now we accept homeless shelters for families.

Our society will be judged on how we love the least of these. That is our elders, our differently abled brothers and sisters, our children. Do we want to be known as the generation that normalized institutional hopelessness? Or do we want to be known as the generation that transfigured a city, province and country and truly made love of neighbour happen and complete a 30 year promise?

Suggested reflection listening: Toby Keith’s (1995) Santa I’m Right Here