Almighty God came into the world a homeless child with a price on his head.
The world then, just like the world now and always, was broken with grief and anger.
And in our time filled with people eager for revenge of one kind or another, a world filled with apocalyptic visionaries, religious and political, who want to purify the world by destroying it except for their small remnant, we should remember the angelic proclamation to some shepherds in the surrounding countryside when that child was born. They did not announce the fiery end of the wicked world, that God is avenged, or anything like that. They said clearly and unequivocally what exactly was God's will for His creation, peace on earth and good will to all people. This proclamation came with no asterisks and no conditions; no prerequisite that we believe in such and such, or belong to such and such, or pass such and such test. Peace and good will were ours to have and ours to share. This proclamation came not to the Emperor or his ministers, generals, clients, etc. to champions of one kind or another, or to geniuses, but to a small band of underpaid overworked shepherds trying to stay warm on a cold night.
William Blake, The Angels Appear to the Shepherds, 1809
Speaking of peace on earth, good will to all people, something that is unimaginable today actually happened a century ago this Christmas. Rank and file British and German soldiers laid down their arms on the battlefields and celebrated Christmas together. And here they are together in this photo from 1914.
German and British soldiers shared a common European culture and a common religion (for the most part) which probably made something like this possible in a way that it is not today. Our conflicts are more deeply tribal and sectarian. When we look at our enemies (and when they look at us) we see a wholly alien Other. It is a lovely thought that we could each take a break from our hatreds for just a day, but I don't think it is likely now.
Christmas blessings to you!
Blake's Angels appear to be Shakers. ;-/
Merry Christmas, Doug!
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