A TIME FOR GIFT GIVING, PART TWO
If this introduction seems familiar, it is. It is identical in part to the Introduction to part one.
The word was made flesh or dwelt among us is often the translation used for one of the initial verses of John’s Gospel. However, the original Greek reads, He pitched his tent among us. Wow! Very different meaning. Very different meaning.
Is there an underlying message in this verse? Perhaps the verse is calling US to pitch our tent in places we would otherwise care not to. It might also be reminding us that the way we treat those who dare to pitch their tent among us (like deporting them), is the way we treat Jesus. You remember, that familiar verse we all like to forget? What you do to the least, you do to me. Come on, do more than just dismiss this. Think about it.
So moving on, I am very much a believer in God. My belief, my faith, takes me well beyond my brain’s innate drive to figure everything out including God. Letting go of my need to be theologically brilliant in figuring it all out is probably a good measure of my becoming at least slightly humble in my old age!
I am also a Christian, and I believe in the PRESENCE (sometimes referred to as the TRUE presence) of Jesus in the Eucharist, but also in the Mystical Body of Christ, as well as in my heart and your heart. Jesus lives in our hearts not based upon our adherence to any set of universal or denominational principles, but Jesus is there because he is there. You, nor the devil, has the power to evict him! Check out my wonderful poem, I Slept With Jesus.
But I also believe that the three folks, who in our Christian tradition, we call God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), are inviting us, perhaps screaming at us, to become Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, disciples of the Tao, informed disciples of the Great Spirit of our own Native People, and informed disciples of the God who lives in the hearts of holy people throughout the world, who know God in their native and ancient ceremonies and way of life, whose beliefs are still uncontaminated by the so called “outside” world. We like to call these folks pagans. We like to consider them outside the plan of salvation. How arrogant!
Perhaps, we have misunderstood the Gospel mandate to go to all nations. Maybe we were to bring the Jesus, the Christ, the God who lives inside of us to all the nations so we could receive what the "nations" have to offer us, the way Jesus went about receiving from other folks who were not Jews. Maybe Baptism is meant to be a Baptism of peace and not of denomination, domination, and judgment about who is saved and who is not.
So now that some of you are absolutely livid with what I have written so far and already picking it apart and pulling up a ton of Bible verses to argue with each one of these sentences, let me return to that awesome verse, He pitched his tent among us.
For those who call ourselves Christians, this is God’s gift to us, a very precious gift. God chose to pitch his tent among us by sending Jesus into the world. And yes, it is Christmas time, the time when we celebrate the arrival of that gift in a special way.
In my first-cup-of-coffee stupor this morning, I started thinking about Christmas gifts, and I heard the “words” from some place deep inside my soul, that there were two very special gifts I could give to EVERYONE this Christmas. I know a little grandiose!
The first gift was to remove as many barriers as I can, so I can truly receive Love from those who love me.
The second gift was to let go of any hold I have, including any beliefs I have, on the devil, so I can stop blaming this fallen angel for the evils in the world. I can stop imagining that my “temptations” to be less than God calls me to be, to injure myself and other people in any shape or form, are about some outside evil force.
So, in order to give these gifts to EVERYONE, I thought I would allow the creative Spirit inside me to create a blog about each gift. Check out the blog on the first gift, part one of this two part series.
What follows is the giving of the second gift.
THE SECOND GIFT
To recap. The second gift: I can decide to let go of any hold I have, including any beliefs I have, on the devil. I can stop blaming this fallen angel for the evils in the world. I can stop imagining that my “temptations” to be less than God calls me to be, to injure myself and other people in any shape or form, are about some outside evil force.
And if you absolutely insist upon believing in an outside evil force, the Tao Te Ching, the ancient and wise Chinese scriptures, teaches us that, when we are one with God, evil, whatever evil is or is not, cannot touch us. So if you truly believe Jesus is your personal savior, then you need to stop dragging the devil into your heart every time YOU decide to violate your own beliefs or values. You just need to hold your self accountable and take responsibility and stop telling us about your moments of weakness. Maybe they are moments of weakness, but that is on you. It has nothing to do with Satan.
When I conveniently credit Satan for my weakness, I split off from the parts of myself I do not like and consequently, I give up responsibility and accountability. I do not think that is what God is calling us to do.
Our moments of weakness, our temptations, the conveniently-labeled evil that lurks in our heart is absolutely ALL about US. In particular, it is about our wounds, new and old. What we are so quick to identify as evil or temptation, is about that very very old wagon of poop that I pull behind me, a wagon of poop I could stop lugging around if I chose and perhaps just dump somewhere so that flowers can grow from all of my awful, painful, wounding, and horrific experiences.
When we were little, we were powerless over being wounded in the first place. Perhaps our little wagon was initially filled with joy and a love for life. But it is not a perfect world, and so our joy and love for life turned to crap as we say, and as the years went by, we kept accumulating more and more poop in the wagon.
But we are all growed-up now. Now we do have power over our wounds. And we can become accountable for our old wounds, and the way we have allowed our old wounds to shape our lives. We can take responsibility for healing our old wounds as well as new wounds. As grown up follks, we are not victims. Yes, we can be on the receiving end of any number of misfortunes, tragedies, traumas, awful awful and inexplicable events. But we have within us, the God given resources to heal and live, to resurrect if you will from each and every one of those painful, awful, unwarranted, undeserved, inexplicable life experiences.
Yes, I can stop crediting the devil for “temptations,” for my irresponsible choices and behavior. Yes, I can step up to the plate and take full responsibility for my life, my decisions, and my actions, and for my wounds.
As mentioned above already, the Tao Te Ching teaches us that when we are one with God, evil, whatever evil is or is not, cannot touch us. So, again, when you decide to violate your own beliefs and values, you just need to hold your self accountable and take responsibility.
As an interesting aside, in his book Transformation, Robert Johnson discusses one of the versions of Faust where the devil falls in love with an angel and is redeemed just like the rest of us. What do you mean you can’t fathom that? So when did you become the determinator of who can be saved and who cannot?
You know, here is the bottom line. There is not a single “evil” in this world that requires the existence of a Satan to explain its presence. Not a one. And when we drag Satan into the picture, it is a convenient way out. We simply are saying, I don’t want to acknowledge how my own beliefs, my religious beliefs, my political bent, my lived values actually contribute to these so-called evils. I don’t want to step up to the plate and be accountable and responsible for making changes in my personal life which will have a ripple effect in changing the world.
So what the heck am I talking about?
When each of us begins dealing with all the pains that have become woven, like cancerous growths, into the fabric of our souls,
when each of us begins touching boiling angers deep inside the bottomless chambers of our hearts,
when each of us begin to sob and let flow healing tears,
when each of us begins reaching out for healing instead of burying both our day-to-day wounds as well as the inexplicable horrors from our past,
when each of us begins to be accountable and take responsibility for the way our country treats its citizens as well as people around the world,
when each of us finally gets it that war has never conquered so called evil,
when we finally get it that the resolution of one war often leads to the beginning of another, for example the economic decimation of Germany after World War I, the cold war after World War II (Japan and Viet Nam are two exceptions in my life time), we might begin to recognize that evil comes from a place inside each of us. And it is not evil, but decaying hurt, cancerous infections, memories of the absolute inexplicable, and debilitating horrors that keep bubbling back to the surface.
And it is like any time we discover a life-threatening condition inside of us. We have choices, choices of how we are going to treat the life-threatening condition. Will we choose a path of healing, resignation or death? I know that is a little harsh, but grasp the truth of it.
And so with all that is evil inside of us or around us. We have choices. We can see evil as something outside of us, something that needs judgment and destruction and we can even come to the belief that God has chosen us to do the job. Or we can begin to heal evil as it exists first of all inside of us, in the ooze of our old wounds. We can take on with great gusto responsibility for our decisions and our behavior, and we can be willing to stand up and be accountable for our own bottom line.
I don’t know if any of this makes sense to you. I hope my blog is not the mumble jumble of a Sunday preacher whom you know is convinced about something, but you’re just not sure what it is.
But if this does make sense to you, I invite you to join me in taking the devil down from his prominent pedestal. Take the risk. Be accountable for the evil in your heart. Take responsibility for the evil you choose to act out and perpetrate. Make this decision a gift to the world and a gift to God for this Christmas.
THANKS FOR READING AND SHARING YOUR OWN THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS propensity we all have to give up personal accountability and say the devil made me do it. You know, if everyone stood up to the plate and became accountable and responsible, war would cease to be an option.