Jenn’s Sunday Sermon – Pray for Peace
Today is Christmas Eve. For those of the Christian persuasion, tomorrow is one of the most holy days of the year. As always at this time of year, I think of how little things have changed with regard to the less-fortunate of society.
A poor carpenter and his pregnant (virgin) wife arrived in a city and found no one willing to take them in. No family, no friends. The trip has been hard on them both, but worse for Mary.
Imagine Mary. About to give birth. She can’t see her feet. Her back hasn’t stopped aching for the last three months, she’s ridden across Israel on the back of a donkey – probably in labor the last few hours of the journey – and now she can’t even find a warm place to lay down and give birth.
At each door they knocked upon, they were told there was no room. Wandering around the city, searching for shelter, finding none as the day wore on.
Finally, one innkeeper gives what he can (without putting himself out). A stall in the barn. Mary likely looked at Joseph and said, “I don’t care. Just get me off this donkey.”
I don’t pretend to be like Mary, but I know the ‘joy’ of travelling cross-country at eight and a half months pregnant. In a Subaru Brat. Two seats. I couldn’t get comfortable for anything. The only clothes I fit into were sweats that made me look like a hippo. The most comfortable position was with my head on the passenger window and my feet in my then-husband’s lap.
We spent the trip fighting over the temperature controls and the radio station. He wanted it warm, I wanted it cold. He wanted country music. I wanted rock. By the time we reached Wichita Falls, all I wanted was a bed and painkillers and to not be pregnant anymore.
The TLF at Sheppard AFB was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen (which I think is the point of Temporary Lodging Facilities. They don’t want you to like it enough to stay.) but I have never been so grateful for a bed. And, as bad as all that was, it sure beat a donkey ride and a cow barn.
The poor, Christ said, we will have with us always. And so we do.
Even in this time of giving and ‘goodwill toward men,’ the poor are blamed for their own situations. People with plenty to spare have all kinds of ‘reasons’ why some people, some group isn’t worth helping. We’ve heard a lot of them over the past year.
Katrina victims in NOLA and the Gulf Coast – “They should have found a way out.” and “They shouldn’t have lived there.” and “They’re all criminals and trash.”
Single parents working one or more jobs, earning minimum wage, barely making ends meet – they should have gotten and/or stayed married. Married parents working one or more jobs, earning minimum wage, barely making ends meet – “they need to pull themselves up and stop whining.”
Poor women who work are ‘selfish’ and should stay home with their children. Poor stay-at-home mothers are ‘lazy.’
Those forced into bankruptcy are “lazy” and “need to be more responsible” even though the leading reason for filing is catastrophic medical expenses.
Illegal Hispanic immigrants sitting in ‘detention facilities’, their American-citizen children left behind or imprisoned with them – “They broke the law.” (Never mind that illegal entry to the US is a misdemeanor offense.)
Is this is what the Republicans meant by “compassionate conservatism?” Is this what Christians call “goodwill toward men?”
Should Christ return tomorrow, he’s going to be mighty surprised by the lack of compassion for the poor, the imprisoned, the afflicted, that is shown by his supposed ‘followers.’ Perhaps instead of worrying about a ficticious ‘War on Christmas,’ they might take some time to actually listen and follow the teachings of their founder.
Today’s prayer is from the Zoroastrian belief:
We pray to God to eradicate all the misery in the world:
that understanding triumph over ignorance,
that generosity triumph over indifference,
that trust triumph over contempt, and
that truth triumph over falsehood.
This prayer comes from Prayers for Peace.