For several years now I've sent out a Christmas missive to you who are a big part of my life, many of whom I've never met but still call friends. I usually allow myself this one little slip into ministerial mode during the year, and most who don't enjoy or appreciate these words are kind enough not to say so. Thank you for your patience and indulgence.
Though I considered skipping this year's Christmas message, some of my rod making friends encouraged me to continue. Thank you for the confidence you express in me. This is, in fact, the fifth year for what have become known as "Dr. Boyd's Christmas Missive." Perhaps every five years is not too often to get really serious, as I hope to do this evening.
This year at Christmas, I have been thinking. Of course, if you know me personally, you know that I am always thinking. Life is never easy, or simple, for me. It is always a wrestling match with God, reality, love, choices, fantasies, dreams and much, much more. As I say to my wife, "I may be hard to live with, but I am not boring. Entertainment is usually costly and you get all this for free."
Specifically, I have been reflecting on Christmas, and the idea that "God became flesh." How does this apply to what I do with my life, i.e., serve as Pastor of our church, as a fighter of fundamentalism, and a proponent for those principles I truly believe in? A few thoughts came to mind which I want to share with you.
Jesus, the God/man born in the manger in Bethlehem is totally unique to all reality. In Christ, God became flesh and embraced being human. He put His arms around the entire world, every person ever born or who will ever be born and said, "I am one of you, I love and understand you, and I want to share my life with you. In short, living life with God is why you were born."
That God/man born in the manger, coupled with the cross at Calvary, is the ultimate statement of how far God is willing to go to declare His love for all creation.
God understands that we spend most of our lives thinking about what a mistake our lives have been; thinking that no one else has the same fears we have; that no one else has the lusts we have; that no one else thinks the thoughts we think, but never, never share with another person. Christmas says to us that God understands all those fears, lusts and thoughts and still loves us unconditionally.
Reflecting on the love of God and the Christmas event reminds me of why I am troubled by religious fundamentalism. Fundamentalism, whether it be Muslim, Jewish, or Christian Fundamentalism, is a message of criticism and judgment that has no power or strength to help people. True power comes from servanthood, not arrogance. Fundamentalism offers no hope, no joy, no peace and no love.
I do not want any part of a Jesus who is unforgiving or unkind. I want to share my life and be a partner with the risking Jesus, who became as human as me, who loves me despite my shallowness and self-centeredness, and who lovingly calls me to invest what love I have in the people I know --- maybe in you --- who need to be reminded of God's unconditional love, grace and forgiveness.
I hope and pray that all of us will be people who "risk faith" in the year to come, thus imitating Jesus, "who, being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!"
It is my hope that we will "risk" loving those that others are condemning; standing up for those that others have forgotten; and serving those with no power to advance our selfish agendas. I hope and pray that as we do so, we experience the hope, joy, peace and love that is Christmas, every day, without even looking for it. That is the gift God gives to those who risk loving with Him.
So this year, at Christmas, may God bless you.
Reverend Doctor Harry Boyd, Jr.