Christmas speaks to the messy, bloody birth waters of our soul

Birth of Jesus by RembrandtChristmas as we know it has been culturally crafted over thousands of years around a base narrative concerning a family in Roman-occupied Israel.

Each December various scientists, atheists and pot-shotters are trotted out with their latest theories debunking Christmas and erstwhile Christian intellectuals and apologists bravely rally to defend the seasonal ground. Others argue over various cultural accoutrements to Christmas such as dates and customs and commercialistation. They act as if the average person is not intelligent enough to distinguish between later attempts to mark something significant and the significant thing itself.

Certainly the habitual attacks on the historical origins of Christmas or Easter or any Christian belief along with the confusing but largely irrelevant criticisms of the cultural artefacts that accompany those traditions, have a gradual, destabilising effect on the faith of the wavering or nominal who are probably the majority of believers in our nation. Around the globe however the effect is infinitesimal and Christian faith continues to thrive and multiply in amazing diversity with scant disregard for broadsheet column centimetres.

That is because at the heart of it, the Christmas story – to quote myself – ‘a base narrative concerning a family in Roman-occupied Israel’ is so shockingly familiar to our own human experience it reaches us where the debunkers and apologists never could, in the messy, bloody birth waters of our soul.

Here are just a few examples, in no particular order:Read More »

Mother reminds world of Justin’s Christian origins

“No 15-year-old wants to be around his mother 24/7. And no mother wants to be around her 15-year-old 24/7, either.”

Sounds like a pretty down to earth comment really and the interesting thing is that it was made by Pattie Mallette, the mother of 16-year-old pop star, Justin Bieber.

Ms Mallette has been in the news this week for reminding the world of her son’s Christian origins. In a discussion about the star’s commitment to remain a virgin until marriage, his mother said, ‘He’s expressed his desire to stay pure, and honour women, and treat women with respect. So hopefully that stays valid.’

Apart from the slightly obscene aspect of the world discussing a 16-year-old’s virginity, it is an intersting insight into ridiculous fame crashing headlong into real people in real family.

Pattie Mallette was just 18 when she became pregnant with Justin, who was born on March 1, 1994, in Stratford, Ontario. She worked low paying office jobs as she raised Justin as a single mother.

While Justin taught himself  to play the piano, guitar and trumpet by the age of 12, Pattie began posting videos of his performances on YouTube with a clear strategy in mind.

It seems that she had a strong Christian faith and at some point, as many parents do, had in a very real way ‘given’ her son over into God’s hands, seeing him as a possible modern day prophet Samuel.Read More »

Trouble with trust except where it belongs

Sorry, but I don’t trust the Israelis and I don’t trust the Palestinians. I don’t trust the activists and I don’t trust the media. And that’s just one issue.

I don’t trust the miners and their crying poor, and I don’t trust, but less, the unions and politicians pushing the super tax.

I don’t trust the scientists who advocate climate change and I don’t trust those that deny it and I don’t trust myself to know the truth if I heard it.

I’m struggling to trust all the books claiming new-ancient ways of doing church because the next book always qualifies the first and starts to sound like what we are already doing.

I don’t trust high-profile Christians in the marketplace to always do the right thing because I can’t always do the right thing and I probably face less pressure than they do.

I often don’t trust journalism (sorry my friends) today because opinion has taken over and whose opinion is it anyway.

I do trust Tony Abbott when he tells us that some of the time he can’t be trusted but I’m not sure if that leaves me ahead or behind.

I don’t trust the next great big thing that’s going to change the world, even those with a Christian veneer, because humans have always had the next big thing and the first was called Babel.

It’s no surprise or tragedy that trust is so often unwarranted. We are all so easily swayed by our own gain whether it be for wealth, warmth or welcome.

Strangely, I do trust a God who I have never seen or heard, who leads me beside stormy waters and quieteth not my soul. Because just when I think I’ve had it, the storm abates, the peace comes and I see and hear him in some way deeper than my senses.

I trust Jesus, and even as I write these words, I feel his goodness pervading in a way that warms my soul and encourages me to love this world anyway.

I trust my wife, the truest heart I’ve ever met, and I trust my love for her and our children, and them for us, trust to die by. And when I think about it there are many family and friends I trust deeply.

Perhaps I’m more trusting that I realise. Knowing helps trusting but knowing is more elusive than ever.

As for the big, wide world out there, it’s not that I’m untrusting, but I’m learning that we don’t need to trust to love and have faith. They are a sacrifice of a different kind… PH