Welcome to my weekly ‘Layman’s Lectionary’ series where I stumble my way through the liturgical year and share my layman’s opinions, doubts, fears, and hopes about modern culture and daily life as it corresponds to scripture.
First Sunday after Christmas Day
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The Christmas holiday can bring the inverse intended emotions of despair, sadness, bitterness, and overall blueness. It’s real and it’s to be honored, noticed, claimed, and (now)… Released.
A new dawn is here. God has entered flesh and his growth into humanity is progressing.
[BTW, it’s been interesting to learn that Jesus wasn’t necessarily a God-granted genius who operated as an enlightened individual from birth, but rather, he consoled a group of spiritual mentors and teachers in his adolescence. His parents could barely pry him away from them. Jesus was a learned man.]
As we slowly enter into lighter days, now’s a good time to look within your experience to see what might be bursting open in your world. The readings for this week inspire us to keep our heads high and welcome God as it breaks into our lowly experience.
In the Psalms reading, we see big, triumphant words like praise, sing, hallelujah, exalted, glory, and the use of a lot of exclamation marks!!
Please don’t fake your happiness. Please don’t spiritually bypass your baggage. Please don’t shun your shadow. Embrace it. Shine the light of your awareness on it. But don’t cling to it. Leave space at the other end of that dark tunnel for the grandeur of God to shine through.
A key attribute of God is ‘moreness’ — just what we need when we reach the end of ourselves.
What I really want to focus this week’s Lectionary series on is the reading from Colossians. If we, as Christians, could turn away from the divisions and specialness we’ve somehow contrived and simply focus on these 156 words (from The Message version, anyway), it would have resounding effects on how we live out our faith. I’m not a big Bible-quoter, but I had to quote this whole reading for you today as it’s one of my favorite entries in the Bible (so far)…
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ — the Message — have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives — words, actions, whatever — be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
— Colossians 3:12–17
(I want to drop the mic right there, but I’ll close it up…)
Notice how there’s nothing about ‘us’ and ‘them’ here. It doesn’t divide, place blame, or assign a badge of righteousness on one over another. It’s not about being self-sufficient, more individualistically prosperous, or better-than.
The message is profound in its simpleness and humbleness.
The wardrobe God picked out for us is one of love, forgiveness, thankfulness, service to others and common sense.
This message seems unimpressive by modern Western standards. It’s not about personal success or God showering us with cash and prizes. It’s down low, not up high. It’s a message that’s rooted in the delicate nature of humanness.
This is where this God is found. On the ground of the human experience.
And so, in true non-dual fashion, this week’s readings integrate the highness of glory with the lowness of humbleness, love, and forgiveness.
With knees in the dirt at the end of ourselves, we extend our arms skyward and find a moreness that meets us where we are and extends a new world to us.
This is the garment of love.
May you never be without it.
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