Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bloody Christmas

Let’s face it: for all its grim-faced cheer and goodwill, Christmas is a bloody awe-full season.

Before the box of torn, discarded wrapping paper has made it out to the recycling bin, we’ve moved from Christmas Day straight into St Stephen’s Day: the remembrance of the first person whose decision to follow the Christmas-babe-grown-up cost him his own life; stoned to death, his crimson blood slowly congealing, mixed with the dusty ground.

And then, just days later, Holy Innocents’ Day: the remembrance of the baby boys of Bethlehem, victims of the infanticidal order of the paranoid puppet king, Herod the Great. They did not die because of their decision to follow Jesus, but as a consequence of someone else’s, the Magi from the east. (I’m not suggesting that the Magi ‘followed’ Jesus in the religious-conversion sense we often use ‘follow’ to mean today; but they did so in an arguably more significant sense: they left behind their known world and travelled into the unknown after him, and back again, a journey of perhaps four years.) Because Christmas marks an invasion, of light into darkness; the pivotal turning-point in a bleak and cosmic conflict; and there will be casualties, of combatants and non-combatants alike.

And what of us? What of me?
Am I willing to take the risk of being a combatant; or will I settle for the risk of being a non-combatant?
Am I willing to be a combatant only in as far as my children are somewhere safe; or am I wise enough to know that nowhere is safe, and that I do my children no favours to pretend otherwise, to fail to train them in the way of combat?

This is the story the season of Christmas asks me to join in. This is the story the season of Christmas sustains me in as I respond.

Have a bloody awe-full Christmas…and a re-invigorated journey into the New Year.

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