The Mark of Christmas

The Mark is the target formed by the commands of Christ. They teach us how to be like God, how to become a child of God. Unlike most teachers and preachers, Jesus Christ shows by example everything He tells us to do, and more. The wisest among us study Christ's life as much as we study His teachings. Even his birth teaches.

I wonder if it was even harder to be born than it was to be crucified. We think that the pain and humiliation of the crucifixion was the ultimate act of love because we can identify with the unfair trial, or imagine people jeering at us with disdain. We can imagine the embarrassment of the public flogging and the grief and agony of leaving behind our friends and family at death.

On the other hand, we can no more imagine the human birth of God’s only begotten Son than we can remember our own.

When Christ told the man to sell all he had, give the money to the poor and follow him, was He reminded of Christmas when He shed the glory of the heavenly throne to become a helpless infant born to modest parents in a stable? Jesus Christ let go of everything He had to give us eternal life in obedience to His Father. He has indeed done everything He asks us to do.

The Mark of Christmas is to find ways to emulate this level of love, humility, and adventure!

Hark! Do you hear herald angels singing?

I pray that this Christmastime brings you the humbling awareness of the enormous sacrifice that became Christmas.

Maybe our extensive debt-making gift-buying is one way to do it! Spend all that you have on your friends and enemies and follow Him.

Peace to you,

Abundance to you,

Light in you,


Ascension to Pentecost - Our Turn

Last Thursday, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, ascended to God His Father after His great mission on earth to reverse the separation between humanity and its Creator caused by our friend Eve, and her husband Adam. Jesus went back home to heaven from where He came. Apostle John told us this in his Gospel when he wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

The time between Easter and the Ascension, when Jesus walked on earth in His new body is spectacular. There are only 11 sightings of Him. We know He ate food and walked through walls: two very fun things to do. It is said that He was showing us what our immortals bodies will be like. I’m so glad we will still be able to eat! “Thanks God!”

Finally one Thursday, because the powerful 40 day time period had passed, as it did when He was in the wilderness being tempted, as it did when Moses visited God on Mt. Sinai, as it did when Noah was in the ark, and the 40 year Exodus, and the 40 years of David’s reign; when the 40 days had passed, Jesus was ready, willing, and able to go Home.

It was no longer useful to God to have Jesus walking around His beloved planet Earth because His mission was accomplished. Besides, one man, as divine as He was, could only do so much. God, the Father, would replace Jesus with His own Holy Spirit.

Miracles are not enough, and never were, to restore the relationship between God and those whom He made in His image and likeness: that’s us aspiring immortals, His children, and His creation called mankind. Miracles are a good start, but only a start.

So that we could follow Jesus’ ascension to heaven, to God the Father in the presence of the host of angels, we need the Holy Spirit to guide us, and teach us, and heal, and comfort us.

In these days between Ascension and Pentecost, we experience in our souls, those receptors of God’s communication with us, the mysterious period of time when neither Jesus is here, nor has the Holy Spirit been sent. It is an empty time of loss and anticipation. Stop, think, and feel.

To experience through the imagination, is no less an experience. It is replete with sensory information that can be quite valuable to our formation as true children of God. In this ten-day period between the ascension and Pentecost, let us take some time to look around at a world with only the memory of Jesus and His amazing mission and His spectacular ascension. Let us anticipate something we could never imagine in our wildest dreams. God, the Holy Spirit will come to dwell within our bodies and minds one person at a time. If we can imagine what it is like to live without that aid, then perhaps when the time comes, we will be able to perceive the presence of the Spirit within and be in a perfect position to have our own ascension to the Father. Follow the Leader.

Drowning on the Cross

The crucifixion of Jesus, the Son of God, is jettisoned out of the physics of date and time in our cosmos. The illusive companions, yesterday and tomorrow, are shriveled up by the luminous glory of God in His holy Now. The reason for this phenomenon is so that one by one a child of man, a child of time, can join Christ there to be given the right to grow into an immortal child of God.

Adam and Eve were created in the image and likeness of God. They foolishly distrusted Him, and then disobeyed Him. The powerful result was for them to be flung out of communion with the source of life. They were to know good and evil intimately. They chose death and they received it as do their children’s children.

God sent to earth His only begotten Son, a new Adam, who with miracles of healing and power over nature demonstrated to humankind our potential. This Son of God was given the mission to reverse the fall of man. He had to undo, death. It is not only that His body had to be murdered, no. Jesus died; He left His father for an instant when He said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” That instant of distrusting God sent Jesus to the realm of the dead to set mankind free. Even more importantly, Jesus allows the living to merge with Him at the only point we possibly can, at Christ-death.

This is not magic; it is mystery. Aspiring immortals enter the kingdom of God through the door of the crucifixion, one by one. As each person is born into the world one by one, each person is born into the immortal kingdom of God, one by one. No one decides for him or herself to be born, our parents and nature decide that for us. So too most people do not decide to be crucified with Christ, our parents and super-nature decide that for us. What we do with this death and rebirth as children of God may be our choice. We can live as trusting children of God forever, or we can repeat Adam and Eve’s decision to prefer a mortal path through life full of distrust of God and with the knowledge of good and evil, that certainly ends in death.

The crucifixion is not a passion play to be watched like a baseball game or an opera. It is a timeless miracle to participate in, once physically and then mentally forever.

They have stripped me; naked I came into this world; naked I am being sent from it. My dearest friends have forgotten me; no one comes to my rescue. I hear myself cry “Abba why have you forsaken me?” My parents look on with satisfied grins on their faces, Pontius Pilates both of them sending me to my death. Abba, help me! The sound of our humanity pleads with the Father. We are baptized in golden tears, drowning. We cry and wail. The fear and the pain are greater than we can bear.

I did not choose this end. I pleaded to let this cup pass from me. My father chose it for me and in my humility I obeyed.

They gape at us, onlookers in the pews, and bystanders at the foot of my cross. I see them down there, some are crying, some simply frown, others are smiling, ridiculing me in my darkest hour. I thirst and am given blood to drink.

No one seems to hear my screams. What is wrong with them! Again and again and again we are immersed, stabbed to be sure that we are really dead.

It is finished. The world is dark and still. I see children holding candles; I hear thunder and the curtain of the temple sanctuary torn in two.

Here comes a friend too late. He has come to take my corpse. He carries me like an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. Joseph of Arimathea, why did you not come sooner to rescue me?

Look! Hollow people walking through the walls and rocks! I see my ancestors gathering near. I cry with joy! See all the people waking up out of darkness. The pain is gone, I feel warm and suddenly peaceful. 

Time stood still; there is no yesterday and no tomorrow. There is one crucifixion; there is one baptism. There is no time. The crucifixion sweeps children of God into His Kingdom.

“Or do you not know that as many as have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, even so we also shall walk in the newness of life.”  Romans Ch 6.