Monday, January 09, 2006


My friend Rolf Ernst has today blogged some thoughts about Ariel Sharon that you all should read.

You might also do a little research on what Sharon has stood for all his life:

and then do a little soul-searching about how you can become a voice for righteousness in Palestine and Israel:


Christ Mass, 2005

Christ’s Peace to you, Friends ~ Christians, Muslims, Jews, Agnostics, all of you,

In 1831 the Mozart Association of Salem, MA, piled into sleighs and went all the way over to Marblehead (five miles) in the snow to give a concert. Their program comprised English “glees,” a Mozart Mass, a section of Haydn’s oratorio “The Creation,” and other works popular at the time. Their founder and leader was Henry Kemble Oliver, organist at The First Church in Salem (the church that nearly two hundred years before had unceremoniously banished Roger Williams into the woods because of his non-conformist theology—the Baptist beginnings of the Freedom of Conscience eventually secured for us in the First Amendment).

That concert was sung Sunday, December 25. Neither the records of the Mozart Association nor Henry Kemble Oliver’s memoirs mention that it was Christ Mass, and this popular musical group made up mainly of church musicians sang NO Christ Mass music that day.

In his article, “Increase Mather’s 1693 Election Sermon,” Alan J. Silva writes,

The Puritans were strongly opposed to fixed dates for their days of celebration and fasting. They did not
believe in the “popish superstition” of holy days, nor were they fond of the English custom of holidays. The classic invective against holidays is Increase Mather's Testimony Against Prophane Customs. Originally published in 1687, Mather's treatise attacks all “superstitious and heathen celebrations,” including those of Christmas, Candlemas, and Shrove Tuesday. To him, holidays are simply an excuse for mindless frolicking.
Early American Literature (34.1), 1999.

I’m a citizen of the United States and—much more importantly—I try (not successfully) to follow the spiritual traditions I have both inherited and come to believe on my own—after a lifetime of painful rebellion—as they are summed up in a few basic ideas:
  • “…by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8)
  • “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven…’” (Matthew 19.21)
  • “[Jesus said], ‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself…’ (John 12.32)
  • “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6.8)

Increase Mather and I would disagree on much (I love mindless frolicking). But I agree with him that we have made the Feast of the Nativity into a “superstitious and heathen celebration.” The superstition is that we can, by “doing” the holiday just right, “save” ourselves/our families/our country, and that having more “possessions” (to heck with the poor) will make us happier. The “heathenness” of our celebration is the belief that the hope of the Incarnate Word is for our kind only, and not “all people,” and that justice, kindness and humility are nice ideas that apply to someone else—or to us only in regard to those who are like us. We are in the grip of terror—terror of solitude, terror of spirituality, and terror of sympathy—terror exploited by the likes of Dick Cheney and Jerry Falwell. We don’t know how to be alone (especially at Christ Mass), we don’t know how to accept grace and peace into our lives (either individually or as a nation), and we don’t have a clue about doing justice, loving kindness, and walking in humility.

Americans refuse to hear the Angel say, “Fear not,” over the "Babel sounds" of our conviction that everyone but US is either a "terrorist" or a "secular humanist" or some other non-specified evil.

“Political correctness” has not made Christ Mass a superstitious and heathen celebration. The actions of those who should know better have done it. Madison Avenue has been joined this year by the shrillness of so-called “christians” to make a mockery of Christ Mass. Anyone bringing lawsuits against school boards, or huffing and puffing on Fox News about how “liberals” are ruining “our” celebration is not, in the Angels’ words, a person of “good will.”

So I hope the “religiously correct” crowd, the pseudo-theological terrorists, will leave me alone. I don’t want Jerry Falwell or any other demagogue thinking he speaks for me. Let them work their terrorism elsewhere. If your goal is to “take back” this country in some temporal power grab - even one you've deluded yourself into believing is for Jesus - leave me out of it. I’ll let Brother Martin speak for me about Christ Mass:

There is no more terrible plague, misfortune or cause for distress upon earth than a preacher who does not preach God's Word… and yet they think they are pious and do good when indeed their whole work is nothing but murdering souls, blaspheming God and setting up idolatry, so that it would be much better for them if they were robbers, murderers, and the worst scoundrels, for then they would know that they are doing wickedly. But now they go along under spiritual names… it would be well if no one ever heard their preaching…

The learners are shepherds, poor people out in the fields. .. under the canopy of heaven, and not in houses, showing that they do not hold fast and cling to temporal things… they are… despised by and unknown to the world… They represent all the lowly who live on earth, often despised and unnoticed but dwelling only under the protection of heaven …

There are many who are enkindled with dreamy devotion and, when they hear of such poverty of Christ, are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem, denounce their blindness and ingratitude, and think, if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more becoming service, and would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably. But they do not look by their side to see how many of their fellow men need their help, and which they let go on in their misery unaided. Who is there upon earth that has no poor, miserable, sick, erring ones, or sinful people around him? Why does he not exercise his love to those? Why does he not do to them as Christ has done to him? It is altogether false to think that you have done much for Christ, if you do nothing for those needy ones...
Sermon by Martin Luther, from his Wartburg Church, Christ Mass Day, 1521

A BLESSED FEAST OF THE INCARNATION OF OUR LORD! (and may the Light of Christ bless you during Epiphany)