Our Christmas Day passed uneventfully.
Our real Christmas Day happened yesterday. All the food prep, the pressies under the tree, all the rearranging of the furniture, all the houseful of over-excited youngsters, and us adults taking it turns to entertain and corral the wee ones. The lunch on fold up/down tables. The little ones lees interested in this magnificent spread than the fun they were having with each other.
If there was a baby Jesus as written I am guessing he didn’t mind that we delayed his arrival by a few days.
We had a wonderful day of family and fun. Coming together like this doesn’t happen often and not usually for a full day. No television no tablets and very little phone-time. It takes a lot for THAT to happen!
So I wondered yesterday whether we are being given a lesson in Love rather than a lesson in theology, faith and religion. A lesson in how Love is not about rules, commandments and covenants but about Love. A real-life lesson in living “outside of the bible” – way beyond the verses and written words. Words of “it is written but I say”. Words that invite unconditional love of and for each other. Words that have become more important than the “I say”. The I say that Love IS enough and Love IS all.
I have found that Love is beyond the bible, outside the bible, more than the bible, and so much more than any and every date we have come to idolise and hold sacred.
Love is. That is why it is enough.
And if that might apply to Christmas then what else in the church calendar might it also apply to? Every Sunday … Lent … Easter … that quiet bit over the summer … maybe just every day of ever week of every season.
Jesus is born! Jesus is risen! Jesus is that and Jesus is this! Hallelujah and Praise the Lord! We must come together to worship, praise and seek forgiveness. The words say so! We must go out and get everyone to agree with the words. The words say so. Yet every time Love is touted as “enough” back come the (additional) words of biblical correctness:
Love on its own is not enough.
(and we have left Love behind and are straight back to the words of the bible)
The words I read in the bible are of the religious elite and this eternal debate of the evidence. The correct (and incorrect) interpretation of the words as written. Of the hypotheticals. of the what is beyond death. Of the what came first arguments. Of the what should we do on this day and that day – what can’t we do on this date and that forensically detailed) debate and arguments. And yet I read in the same words of the same bible a response that is essentially:
It doesn’t matter a jot!
I remember the palpitations I had inside when I first though that. THAT thinking which went against everything I had been taught, had seen, had heard and felt. It seemed I was rejecting everything I knew was right. Then actually writing these thoughts in black and white – making those thoughts “real” – was just as intimidating.
I was going against God, the bible, the church – going against everything I had been taught my whole life. As I kept being told again and again in different loving ways as I ventured nearer and nearer to this point. The point where I put down the bible and left the words inside. Put down so much I had been told and taught. Left behind whether something was biblically correct or not. Walked away from so much of the stuff I had been taught was the only way to live if …
That “if” of transaction.
The transaction that says I must believe (what exactly?) if I am to have eternal life. The “if” that lives in biblical correctness. The “if” that prevents Love from ever being enough. The same “correctness” I see challenged time after time after in the very words that are the bible. The words of Jesus having at the religious elite. The same current religious elite who KNOW what is biblically correct or not. Who teach and preach that Love can never be enough because of the “if”.
The words in the bible illustrate that “if” time after time.
And yet I was taught that “they” were the Pharisees – the enemy – the ones who needed institution more than salvation. The ones who didn’t recognise the Saviour walking amongst them. The ones for whom Love wasn’t even relevant let alone “enough”. The ones who put poor Jesus to death. I am also told “they” no longer exists. That now we know what is correct and what is not. Jesus told and showed us. It’s just the Pharisees wouldn’t accept that but now we do. And THAT is why love is never enough on its own. The logic of which escapes me every time.
I see parallels.
And expect to be told yet again that I am biblically incorrect. I have been told that many times. Yet I feel closer to the Jesus not of the bible but of living and loving in this moment and the next more than I ever did when I was in the words and the institution seeking biblical correctness.
Weirdly I see that in the words of the bible as well.