Christmas: The Scandal of Jesus Turned into a Party of the Idol Worshipers

Jesus was anti-ritual and hypocritical religiosity. He did not seek his popularity based on what he consumed, with whom he associated, and on his academic credentials. He did not know where his next meal would come from and where he would sleep the night. He based his hope of survival on solidarity with fellow humans and God.


by Jude Fernando

( January 3, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Celebrating Christmas during my adult life is one of the most troubling things I do. I hate to be at Christmas parties and to give gifts. Often, I am not sure what I mean when I say, “Merry Christmas.” Seeing the beggars in front of the church, when I walked in and out of the Church on Christmas Service made me feel guilty and hopeless. This is feeling I experience every year after Christmas service. I fear such sentiments have become normalized in my consciousness, and they seem to have not much impact beyond my intellectual domain. Paradoxically, (thanks to my friends) Christmas also continues to be a time of reflection that gives me hope. I was thrilled to listen to Haitian priest’s sermon. It was powerful and full of hope, and it inspired me to write this message.

You see when Christ is not at the center of our Christmas celebrations, we make Christianity a religion-religion like Karl Marx described: “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” When we celebrate a white, blond, blue-eyed Jesus during Christmas, we often forget that Jesus had none of those features. The features of Christ many Christians celebrate are inventions of various theologies, colonialism, capitalism, and sexism—the idols of the modern, (both secular and the religious) world. During Christmas, we are supposed to be celebrating liberation from these ideologies and celebration of a new world order of justice and equality.  Unfortunately, our celebrations reinforce these ideologies and have taken Christ from its’ center, mocking the true meaning of Christmas.

The environment we invented to celebrate Jesus’s birth is radically different from the one in which he was born and lived. Jesus’s time refused him a place for his birth, and the hyper-religious rulers of the day were waiting to kill him.  Three kings, the only distinguish guest who visited Jesus from far away, were forced to find secrete return routes, to escape from be interrogated by those waiting to kill Jesus.   His life was a threat to the principalities and powers of his day.  His birth did not carry the glamour that we create as we celebrate it today.

Life of Jesus was markedly different than the life we expect of our contemporary liberators or religious leaders.  Many of the priests today are ritual-managers, rather than providing Christ-line pastoral care to the faithful.  Jesus was born in a cowshed and traveled on a donkey.  Priest’s survives by providing what people want rather than pastoring people to live Christ-like life.

Everything Jesus did during his 30-some-year journey pointed to the cross on which he suffered a criminal’s death. His death on the cross, undoubtedly, was the most humiliating form of execution of his time, but that cross became the most revolutionary symbol of the human history.


Jesus was anti-ritual and hypocritical religiosity.  He did not seek his popularity based on what he consumed, with whom he associated, and on his academic credentials. He did not know where his next meal would come from and where he would sleep the night. He based his hope of survival on solidarity with fellow humans and God. His brand of solidarity was exceptional. It was based on a will to invest his time even in those whom he knew would betray him to the cross.

The entire life of Jesus was an unprecedented grand scandal (to borrow a phrase from my mentor VKR). Scandalous acts made him who he was and the character of the person we are supposed to celebrate. Today we have turned this scandal into a party, a party with Christ.

Jesus’s life was a scandal of solidarity with the poor and the oppressed.

Everything Jesus did during his 30-some-year journey pointed to the cross on which he suffered a criminal’s death. His death on the cross, undoubtedly, was the most humiliating form of execution of his time, but that cross became the most revolutionary symbol of the human history.

We must not forget that Jesus was killed by religious people, not by heathens, atheists, and social outcasts. His crime was challenging principalities and powers, upsetting the status quo, and embracing conflict and tensions, risks and sufferings, on behalf of the poor and the oppressed. He did this with a sense of joy, purpose, and hope. He was subversive, on the side of the poor and marginalized. He was not the type of king that we celebrate on Christmas. He was a king who sought to create a new world order by turning the established order upside-down. His prayer was, “thy Kingdom come, and Thy will be done” in contrast to what we often pray “MY kingdom come, and they will be done,” The model of Christ’s leadership can be best described as servant leadership. His mission was to serve the world with love and justice.  But for today’s many of leaders’ world exists only to serve their selfish interests and passion. This is true of many human rights leaders.  If these leaders and their followers are genuine, today’s world would have seen more matters than

Jesus was willing to break the law when necessary, Civil disobedience was part of his ministry. He delighted to use unconventional means and disobey norms and etiquette in conducting social affairs. He never hesitated to speak the truth and stand up for justice and was not tempted to be silent just keep everyone happy and maintain peace and order. He never valued collegiality at the expense of truth and justice.


Our hyper-religious, ritual-obsessed, self-righteous, and commercial Christmas celebrations epitomize how far our lives are removed from the exemplary life of Christ. Christmas rituals are mostly about reinforcing how separated are we from the Life that Chris expect us to live. In Christ’s mission, there was no compartmentalization between religious and the secular, reason, and faith, nor were economics, politics, and culture distinct domains. They were all interrelated and judged based on their ability to uphold justice and equality.

Jesus was willing to break the law when necessary, Civil disobedience was part of his ministry. He delighted to use unconventional means and disobey norms and etiquette in conducting social affairs. He never hesitated to speak the truth and stand up for justice and was not tempted to be silent just keep everyone happy and maintain peace and order. He never valued collegiality at the expense of truth and justice. He was a troublemaker, indeed. Losing friends for the sake of justice and feeling isolated among his closest His friends; he was still willing to forgive and embrace them in love and humility, embracing those frustrations as inevitable in an imperfect human world.

Jesus was a humble revolutionary. His revolutionary model was of stewardship, not conquest and domination. It was about creating a just and equal new world order. He never expected to see the results of his revolutionary mission during his lifetime. His revolution was not a time- or finance-bound project. It was a lifelong process built on sacrifice and hope, He and his disciples were like a team of runners in a relay race, passing the baton from one to another, not knowing if their team would finish the race. They placed hope in each other and had the humility to accept that other runners would finish the race. They understood human weakness and limitations.

He was willing to be marginalized and suffer for taking the side of the oppressed. His mission of equality and justice was based on the simple principle, “love you as you like to be loved by others.” The charity that we today we see as the main expression of Christian love was not the central part of Christ’s mission; instead, it was battling against the forces that make charity a necessity. When we eject charity from the center of our faith, we would not hear greetings of “Merry Christmas” and “happy Christmas.” Loving people like Christ loved them is not easy. It is a costly and difficult thing to do. It does not require reciprocity. Christ’s kind of love was not insipid but inspired devotion, anger, frustration.

As we celebrate Christmas today, millions of babies are denied a safe and decent place to be born and to live. Millions of forced migrants are on the move from one place to another, fearing death and persecution, while many who celebrate Christmas are blowing their “TRUMPETS” in praise of earthly leaders who deny human dignity, equality, and justice to forced migrants. They celebrate colonization and domination of society and the natural environment as the fulfillment of scriptures. They sanitize racism and xenophobia since they need them to preserve the false Christian values of their self-proclaimed master race. While claiming to champion life, these so-called Christians are complicit in policies that deny life to the most vulnerable populations and that destroy our environment. By subjugating Christmas celebrations to the dictates of racism and capitalism, these Christians have turned themselves into owners, rather than to be the stewards Christ mandated.

Todays’ celebrations of Christmas are evidence of Christians guided by faith in prosperity theology rather than liberation theology that centers the poor and the oppressed. They believe that, by God’s grace, their faithful support for racist capitalism will cause prosperity to trickle down to the poor and the oppressed. These hyper-religious Christians continue to crucify Christ by celebrating their earthly ruler’s anti-human and anti-environment policies as the fulfillment of prophecy. They are oblivious to the fact that they are complicit with those who persecute powerless Christian minorities in the world. (Some even have turned the persecution of these Christians into an industry by forming organizations, which I called the Church persecution industry, that survives on funds the very countries and Christians that are supportive of racism, imperialism, and capitalism. Christmas, the leaders of these organizations send Christmas greetings to the world, greetings that make a mockery of Jesus’s birth.)

Many Christians today do not realize that Christ does not give us the moral right to speak against sufferings of these Christian minorities unless we also stand up against the Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and homophobia propagated by leaders who claimed to be Christian and were elected by Christian followers. For them, the holiness of land depends on political and economic control by any means necessary, rather than on land as a site of justice.

Many Christians deny the core teachings of their scriptures when they refuse to recognize the presence of God’s goodness in others, including those who do not believe in Him. We should be troubled by the fact that the land where believers of all three monotheistic religions live, the land that all of them consider “their” holy land, is a site of violence where injustice and inequality prevails. When we celebrate Christmas without taking a political stand against these injustices and inequalities in the holy land, we defend holiness, not as a property of justice and equality, but as a servant of a nation’s dehumanizing political or geopolitical projects.

This Christmas is one of the most painful to celebrate because of Christians in some parts of the world are celebrating the reversal and undermining of many progressive achievements of the modern world—achievement Christians should have seen as truly Christian works. Even worse, powerful nations bully others to support such policy reversals. How many Christians are in the forefront of protests against the trauma and anxiety forced on the most vulnerable populations across the world?

Today’s celebration of Christmas is mostly idol worship. Christ’s mission of equality and justice has been replaced by idols of patriotism, nationalism, capitalism, prosperity, etc. Many Christians invoke values the Kingdom of God because they help them to serve their racist projects of nationalist, capitalist, and sexist interests. Those who challenge these human projects by calling on Biblical values of the Kingdom of God are condemned for not being “born again,” harassed and persecuted. The absence of suffering in the church is a sign that God is not at the center of worship, that the church has violated the first commandment: “You shall have no other God’s before me.”

If Christ is the center of our faith, then we should be celebrating testimonies of our participation in struggles to bring joy to the world, and our position at the center of battles against injustice and equality. We should celebrate challenges to inequalities of power, wealth and privilege. During Christmas services, we would hear the stories of those marginalized and made to suffer for struggling towards justice and equality. We would self-reflect on and celebrate our abandonment of privileges because we love our fellow human beings and the natural environment. Christmas should be a celebration of the material and social costs being Disciples of Christ.

Christmas should move us to reflect on scandalous life of Jesus and his death, only four months away (I mean the lent). We must begin to live with the same mission and purpose that brought death and suffering to Christ. If we do that next year, we could blow our trumpets in celebration of the testimonies of who those suffer for equality and justice. Then we all could sing “Joy to the world” more meaningfully.

Christmas celebrations have turned the scandalous life of Jesus into a party. Jesus, the guest of honor of the party, is not the revolutionary who died on the cross. Instead, Jesus is the one who brings material prosperity; safeguard the privileges of the dominant races and sexes, guardian of our right to bear arms, protect us from aliens, and immigrants, who holds the power of our dollar, guardian of trickle-down economics, and the one who has the courage to cut welfare for the poor and relax all environmental laws for us to exploit nature, guide us in the conquest of the world, and of course charity to the poor.”  Jesus, by his own grace, ensures that some of our wealth will trickle down to the poor (trickle-down economics or trickle-down grace)


Let’s next Christmas be a celebration of our scandalous life that we have lived to share Chris’s love by relentlessly fighting for justice and equality.


The celebrants who challenge the party-Jesus and attempt to emulate scandalous Christ’s example condemned as ‘troublemakers, winners, activists, emotion-driven, God-less communists, heathens, etc.” While the partiers are honored as ‘born again, those who love peace and order, pragmatists, thoughtful, understanding, guardians of their nations from the diseased affected and wealth-robing migrations, refugees, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ community and liberals and, etc. During Christmas, they celebrate prosperity is fundamentally responsible violence, deprivation, and ecological crises. Ironically, partiers even have no control over the party as it is framed and guided by global commodity and capital flows. They are oblivious to the fact the party is all about them once again crucifying Christ, and it foreshows their destruction.

If we want to meaningfully celebrate Christmas, then we need to recover scandalous nature of Christ and make a pledge to emulate it in our daily lives. Let be resolve to find joy and hope of being scandalous. Let’s next Christmas be a celebration of our scandalous life that we have lived to share Chris’s love by relentlessly fighting for justice and equality.

In the coming year, let us make religion the opium that intoxicates our souls us with a righteous and humble desire to serve Jesus, our subversive King.

On this journey with Christ, we will continue to experience contradictions, inconsistencies, and guilt as we recognize our bodies and relationships as sites that produce same oppressions and injustices we seek to eradicate. Let us be humble, acknowledge this, and seek the support of God and our fellow human beings as we dedicate ourselves to participating in the struggles that will make this a better world. In Christ, there is hope for human beings, “who know what is right and wrong and what we should and not do, but still, end of up doing what we what is wrong, and what we know we should not do.”

 


Here is the context in which I wrote this blur: Haiti is country of Tino/Arawak Indians who were exterminated by Spaniards and then populated by African slaves. Haiti is first nation that meaningfully “challenged the ontological order of the West and global order of Colonialism.” One time it is the richest colony in the world. It was the birthplace of revolutionary ideas of anti-slavery and carried out the World’s first successful anti-slavery revolution. This is the land that traumatized North Americans and other colonized nations because of the possibility of Haitians spearheading revolutions of “liberty, fraternity, and equality,” among their slave population. North American anti-slavery movements are in fact indebted to Haiti because Haiti was emblematic of successful anti-slavery rebellion. Haiti gave hope of freedom for North American slaves and slaves around the world. Unfortunately, this is also the land that continuously fails to translate its political revolution into a social and economic revolution because the country is kept under subjugation by the global superpowers and capitalism. Under the guise of ‘self-preservation’ (as we know from the days of Denmark Vesey conspiracy in the 1860s), the West continues to enact policies (e.g., AIDS prevention) to deny Haitian’s igniting and equality. Haiti is one of the most beautiful places I enjoy visiting. There are plenty of reasons to be hopeful for a better future here because I know those centuries’ old revolutionary impulses have not left Haitian political consciousness.

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

Sri Lanka Guardian has been providing breaking news & views for the progressive community since 2007. We are independent and non-profit.

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