God has been imagined in a myriad of ways, but for me, one of the most profound images of the deity is fantasizing God as a child.
Almost any parent will tell you that having a child will disrupt your life, waking you at all hours, interrupting your plans for the day or your life, on occasion breaking your heart with their discoveries of human limitations and frailties—including your own—and their willfulness and resistance to your best of hopes.
All this, and yet a child has promise, promise of companionship, promise of an unbreakable bond, promise of a better future for the world.
That’s why the Christmas nativity stories speak to me.
And to think of God as vulnerable, weak, needing care and protection, so that the promises of God may be fulfilled! This is the spiritual life for the followers of Jesus: to be attentive to Jesus’ incarnation of God as compassionate, fatherly and motherly (think of the “Our Father” and the mother hen gathering her brood), creating and nurturing the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, raising the dead, forgiving the crucifiers—remember, all these things Jesus asked of God in prayer. Jesus was the embodiment, God was the inspiration.
These thoughts came to me Sunday as I was part of a cluster of congregants (alongside similar clusters) creating Chrismons, symbols of the Christ, for our “Chrismon tree” at Ormewood Church: chalices, crowns, crosses, and more. Half of our cluster would be identified as “children,” but we were all children, both at heart and in reality: somebody’s children as well as children of God. We enjoyed the interruptive playfulness of creation in the midst of worship.
Children are welcome in our services, and though their drawing and coloring can sometimes distract from our pastor Jenelle’s or our seminary interns’ theological insights, many of us believe that their “disruptions” open our hearts to the serendipity, creativity, refreshing playfulness of God.
A dropped crayon rolling on the floor can be as much an occasion for joy as a spiritual insight.
And yet we did not miss a central message in Sunday’s sermon, that despite everything going on in our troubled world, we are to lift our heads in hope, in action, in resolve. “Stand up and raise your heads,” was the repeated sermonic refrain from Jesus in Luke 21:28, to which Jenelle would plaintively but rhetorically ask, “Really?” in a kind of litany contrasting the admonition with one trouble after another in our world.
Raising our heads in hope, in action, and in resolve is the ultimate disruption of the status quo, “the powers that be,” the way things are.
Jesus was the great Disruptor, challenging empire, income inequality, self-righteousness, political and religious authority, vengeance, and indifference.
May we follow his lead.
Photo courtesy of The African American Lectionary.
This Sunday, December 9, 2018 I will be speaking for the 9:45 service of Emerson Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Marietta, Georgia, on “Christmas for the Spiritual but Not Religious.” The public is welcome!
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Copyright © 2018 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved.