Category Archives: Semi-political

Victims Expendable 01.001

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A Christmas Eve Litany

This was used last year (2016) for the opening of the Christmas Eve services in the congregations of the Lunenburg Lutheran Parish, in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  It’s for three voices, and probably most effective when done at the start of the service, before anything has been announced or sung.

It is attempting to be real.  Therefore, some will perceive it as dangerous.  But such is the way with Incarnation…

Feel free to use (and let me know how it goes!), or simply reflect on it for your own devotional practice.

Pax….

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A Christmas Eve dramatic reading (2016)

1 – In the towers of power,

2 – The people of power play their games,

3 – Treating people like pawns in a chess match.

1 – Expendable.

2 – Replaceable.

3 – Forgettable.

1 – Un-named.

2 – Un-noticed.

3 – Un-important.

1 – Valued only when it’s time to vote.

2 – Needed only when it’s time to pay taxes.

3 – Called upon only when it’s time to go to war.

1 – Consulted only if it will benefit the tower,

2 – And the power people inside,

3 – And their never-ending power games.

1 – Passing laws that others must obey.

2 – Passing laws which benefit the power people.

3 – Passing laws about who counts,

1 – Who is included,

2 – And even more importantly,

3 – Who is NOT.

1 – Making speeches about who is OUT,

2 – Who doesn’t BELONG,

3 – Who doesn’t FIT

All – With US!

1 – In the towers of power,

2 – The people of power play their games,

3 – Listening to money,

1 – Listening to themselves,

2 – Listening to their cravings

3 – For more.

All – For MORE!

1 – More power,

2 – More wealth,

3 – More control.

1 – But wait.

(Pause)

2 – Because,

(Pause)

3 – Something has happened.

(Pause)

1 – GOD has happened.

2 – OUTSIDE the towers of power,

3 – OUTSIDE the power games of the power people,

1 – OUTSIDE of strength,

2 – OUTSIDE of wealth,

3 – OUTSIDE of control.

1 – God has happened,

2 – In weakness,

3 – In helplessness,

1 – In love.

2 – In love,

3 – In love.

1 – Come to claim the expendable.

2 – Come to embrace the replaceable.

3 – Come to remember the forgettable.

1 – To name the un-named.

2 – To see the un-noticed.

3 – To be with the un-important.

1 – To live among God’s chosen,

2 – Those outside the tower,

3 – Those excluded from power.

1 – God has happened,

2 – To the casts offs,

3 – To the lepers,

1 – To the foreigners,

2 – To the refugees,

3 – To the children,

1 – To the addicts,

2 – To the misfits,

3 – To everyone who is outside.

1 – To proclaim that they belong.

2 – They matter.

3 – They are welcome.

1 – A baby is born.

2 – Outside.

3 – And angels sing.

1 – Outside.

2 – And shepherds rejoice.

3 – Outside.

1 – Where God has happened.

2 – Where God is happening.

3 – Where God comes.

Christmas Blasphemy

I always seem to get a little blasphemous at Christmas.

[Blasphemy (blas-fuh-mee).
Impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things; irreverent behaviour toward anything held sacred, priceless, etc.]
From Dictionary.com

Don’t get me wrong. I like Christmas. The story, the traditions, the memories, the liturgies, are all wonderful ways we connect with our past, and remind us, at least in part, who we are.

At the same time, the relentless cheerfulness, the insane stress we put on ourselves, and the competing story that inundates us 24/7 which tries to tell us that we are what we buy or get or consume (which are admittedly there all the time, but which are exponentially ramped up at this time of year) all combine to make me just a bit cynical about it all.

Just a bit!

So, as I was reading through the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke’s gospel this year, I was struck by the first couple verses.  They are frequently skipped over, or ignored, and sometimes they aren’t even read. But they did something for me this time.

“In those days a decree went out from Emperor [aka Caesar] Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.” Luke 2:1-2

That’s it. Just those two simple time markers.

But what came to my mind when I read them this time was the (admittedly somewhat blasphemous!) statement, “Keep Caesar in Christmas!”

The second thing that that came to mind was the equally blasphemous “Keep Quirinius in Christmas!”

(I think the first has more impact, because Caesar was far more important to the story, and to history, than Quirinius, but I must say, the alliteration of the second is rather nicer!)

The story of the birth of Jesus is a major political statement, in which the big guys turn out to be less than pawns in God’s ultimate chess game. THEY are the ones who are captive; in this case, captive to their own understanding of what Power is, and what it is for.

Meanwhile, God is free, working in the shadows to bring light. God is free, working in the hidden corners to bring into the open; in the middle of powerlessness to demonstrate true strength; in the middle of vulnerability to bring assurance; in the middle of un-named masses to bring true identity.

We need to remember Caesar and Quirinius, for they not only locate the “Jesus event” in time, but also in political realities which affect how the story plays out, and which make this story Good News for those under oppression, for all who live under the thumb of Caesar or his myriad current-day offspring.

The freedom Christ brings is not just a “spiritual” freedom, which somehow applies in all situations (but which, in reality, impacts none of them). Freedom in Christ has real-world, political ramifications; not partisan, but most definitely public, most definitely part of life, most definitely engaged in the concrete struggle for justice.

The church in Europe during the 20’s and 30’s forgot that.  Most Christians  allowed themselves to be convinced that “religion” was “spiritual” (i.e. all about heaven) but in the mean time, they had more important things to do.  And at the top of that list was obeying the government.

In many ways, we are still paying for that.

That’s why I think it might be helpful to have a new figurine added to our nativities, dressed in a toga and issuing orders which Joseph and Mary are legally obligated to follow. We need this reminder that Caesar was “In Charge,” doing “Important Things,” and building the glory that was Rome.

Perhaps then we will be more open to the God who comes in vulnerability, to un-important people, who are doing completely ordinary things, and who are therefore in a position to discover reasons to challenge the claims our current day Caesars might be making.

Keeping Caesar in our Christmas story is a way to make the story real, concrete, and relevant in a world which increasingly wants to dismiss any who challenge the status quo.

Challenge the status quo! Keep Caesar in Christmas!