Rev. Rich Lang
What your church won’t tell you about Christmas
Far too many churches have sold their soul to empire. What you won’t hear in the Christmas story is the truth. And the truth is that sweet baby boy Jesus was a political threat to the powers that be. Back in the day, there was only one person who was called “Lord and Savior” and that was Caesar Augustus. The emperor was also called the son of God. He was also born of a virgin, thought to be divine and thought of as the one who had brought peace to the world. The early church transferred these titles to Jesus because they saw in him a new path towards peace with justice.
The old path to peace was the injustice of Caesar’s reign. After decades of revolutions, revolts, insurgencies and political chaos, Augustus had been able to secure the Pax Romana (the peace of Rome) over the known world. It was a full-spectrum military-dominated empire that had benefits for a tiny elite, and grueling existence for the majority. The Christmas story is a hopeful plea for liberation from that empire. In Mother Mary’s own words, the mighty get tossed off their thrones, and the rich will be sent away empty handed. But the Church rarely if ever mentions the political implications that are awakened in a barn far away in Bethlehem. Most sermons are about sweet peace that offers no specific content, and most certainly no threat to our own empire.
Our empire, the Pax Americana, is as cruel and blind as the one built by the Romans. Just look at the cost of America’s way of life, at the way of America’s peace. Trillions of dollars have been lost in speculation, but no one is held accountable. Billions are lost in the Pentagon, but no one is held responsible. Millions of families have been foreclosed out of their homes, 27 million are out of work, 44 million are on food stamps, 52 million are in poverty, all of this at a time of record-setting profits by corporations. Safety nets are breaking down. Austerity measures are increasing. Everyone knows the stock market is rigged, the tax system is rigged, revolving-door government is rigged, two-party oligarchy is rigged, campaign finance is rigged, rule of law is rigged, media is rigged, corruption rules, and that we are at war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen with rumors of more wars to come. This is the cost of America’s peace and the consequence of the American way of life. We certainly could use a savior.
The public proclamation of a domesticated, therapeutic Jesus of our heart is of no earthly good. What we need is the fiery son of Mary who will help lead an insurrection and offer us a new path towards peace with justice. Now that would be a merry Christmas. n
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.