Skip to main content

relatives

I have spent the past 2 days with an 8-month-old in the house. She is my niece so I like her better than most 8-month-olds. And she seems to like me as well, as is apparent by her cooing, flapping of arms, and grabbing of my hair. As someone who admits to not being much of a baby person (okay, really not at all; give me a teenager any day of the week and we are tiiiight in no time), the interaction was somewhat surprising to me. Why do we get along so well? Because of who she is. She is blood. She is part of me in some way. I already like her, no matter what she does or how she turns out. She will always be liked by me. She doesn't have to do anything to get my love and attention, except be born into the family. And though this is the simplest concept in the world - that who someone is determines how we treat them much more than what they do - hardly anyone gets this, including me.

I consistently like people better that treat me well or have something to offer me when in fact, the ones that have trouble coming up with anything to contribute to my life (or society in general) and probably need the most love are often the ones I choose to neglect.

Jesus came as a baby, directly related to divinity and to humanity. You'd think that humankind would welcome one so intimately related, but the family, for the most part, turned out not to be so fond of the new relative. The blood tie, though usually a very strong element in the Jewish culture, turned out not to be strong enough. What he did was upsetting to many, and it overshadowed who he was. When you don't like God, there is not much you can do about it, but when you don't like your relatives, you can treat them with disrespect and shun them and hope that this is enough to make you feel better about the awkward situation and them bad about it. It never is, of course.

The bad treatment he received was not enough to offend either the human or the divine part of Jesus, because he was related by blood to all of these human beings and he already liked them. Oh that I could let the blood of Jesus run so thick in my veins so that who people are matters much more to me than what they do.

This was the warm and cheery family Christmas scene here in Winkler yesterday evening.

Comments

dougfloyd said…
Those are thought-provoking words Matte. Thanks.
John Elias said…
Those are thought-provoking words Matte. Thanks.

Popular posts from this blog

what binds us together?

For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book by famed psychiatrist M. Scott Peck which chronicles his travels (together with his wife) through remote parts of the UK in search of prehistoric stones. The book is part travel journal, part spiritual musings, part psychology, and part personal anecdotes. A mixed bag, to be sure, and not always a winning combination. At one point, I considered putting the book aside, not finishing it, but then Peck started writing about community. He is no stranger to the concept. He has led hundreds of community-building workshops over the years, helped start a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering community, and written a compelling book about the topic, one which greatly impacted me when I read it oh so long ago.[1]

In preparation for a course I am teaching next year, I have been doing quite a bit of study on unity and community. Once you start thinking about it, you see and hear evidence of it everywhere. (See my blog on the impact of b…

job hunting

I am on the hunt for a job. PhD in hand, I am a theologian for hire. The thing is, not a lot of places are hiring theologians these days, and if they are, they are usually looking for scholars with skills and experience outside my area of expertise. Today I found job opportunities for those knowledgeable in Religion, Race, and Colonialism, Philosophy and History of Religion, Islam and Society, Languages of Late Antiquity, Religion, Ethics, and Politics, and an ad for a Molecular Genetic Pathologist. Not one posting for a Dramatic Theologian with  a side order of Spirituality and a dash of Methodology.

I know, I know. My expectations are a bit unrealistic if I believe I will find an exact match for my particular skills. I know that job descriptions are wish lists to some extent, so no candidate is ever a perfect match. I also realize that one must adapt one's skill set according to the requirements of the job and be flexible. But there are so few jobs which come within ten or even…

building the church

Imagine two scenarios: 1) Give every person in the room a popsicle stick. Ask them to come together and put their sticks onto a table. Invariably, you end up with a random pile of sticks on a table. 2) Give every person in the room a popsicle stick. Show a picture of a popsicle stick bird feeder and ask people to come together and put their sticks on a table according to the picture. You will end up with the beginnings of a bird feeder on a table.

What is the difference between the two scenarios? In both, each person brought what they had and contributed it to the collective. However, in the first scenario, there were no guidelines, no plan, and no right or wrong way to pile the sticks. People came, placed their sticks on the table, and walked away. In the second scenario, people were given a plan to follow and as a result, something specific was built. Instead of walking away after they made their contribution, people huddled around the table to watch what was being built. Some were…