For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. – Galatians 3:26-29
So I’m featuring a scripture that’s not typically quoted Christmas Eve. But my heart was drawn to Galatians 3 this morning after I read a bunch more absurd political wrangling in the newspaper.
Here’s what I’d like us to do – and I guess my thinking is also influenced by the song I’ll be singing at church this evening (Christmas in the Trenches) – I’d like to propose a Christmas truce; and I’d like us to pour our hearts and enthusiasm into it to the extent that it goes viral, and we all decide to make peace a permanent fixture.
WWI: Back in World War One, Christmas Eve 1914, soldiers at scattered points along the front met in no-man’s land; they exchanged handshakes, greetings, gifts, and stories of home. But it only lasted a few hours, and before long they got back to killing one-another.
What happened was remarkable, but it was rooted in sentiment, and had no staying power. I’d like to think that we can enter a new truce based on faith, and faith offers the possibility – no, the imperative – to hold the course.
ONE in CHRIST: To make my case I’d like to paraphrase the Galatians passage: We are all God’s children because we have faith in Jesus. Being united with Christ in baptism is like putting on new clothes. In consequence, the old barriers don’t exist anymore; no more Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, black or white, Republican or Democrat, gay or straight, American or immigrant, no more factionalism. Now that we all belong to Jesus we are true heirs of Abraham. As heirs, then, God’s promise belongs to us all.
This is the gift of Christmas!
12-DAYS: So I propose the temporary suspension of our rigidity, our prejudices, our political posturing, our self-righteousness, our judgments, our tragic need to be “right” – and a commitment to a spirit of openness during Christmas. We can begin today, Christmas Eve, and give the idea our full commitment during all Twelve Days of Christmas.
Then – and unlike the sad return to hostilities that marked the end of the 1914 Christmas Truce – I believe the best Christmas gift we can give to one-another would be to look around after 12 days (that would be Epiphany), and to actually have an epiphany; and simply, to keep the ball rolling.
I honestly believe that once we get things in perspective – the Christmas Point of View – then we’re going to enjoy it, and enjoy each other, to the extent that the real reason Jesus came will change us, just enough for peace to break out for a season.
And then… who knows?
HAPPY HOLIDAYS – DEREK