Tuesday 22 December 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesus Christ

He wasn't born on the 25th December.

He wasn't born in the year dot. Herod was dead by then.

There was no universal census decreed by Augustus. And had there been, no one would have had to return to the town of their birth. The Romans weren't as crazy as Obelix thought.

Indeed, there was no stable, no shepherds, no magi. All this was gossip that did the rounds after his death. After all, the 'Messiah' had to be born in Bethlehem.

What we celebrate at this time of year is- 'Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men'.

This is the other festival of the Christian Calendar. At Easter we celebrate what he did. At Christmas we celebrate what he MEANT. Because the fairy tale of the stable, is exactly that; a fairy tale.

So- what did he mean?

Oh, 'Christians' will tell you what Christianity means.

They love to quote the Good Book. But Christ did not write the Good Book. Christ's attitude to the old can be summed up by 'I come not to replace the law but to fulfill it.

In other words, Christ's words are not the Old Testament.

Nor are Paul's words Christ's words.

In fact, I doubt Christ would even have LIKED Paul.

And I doubt he would have liked most 'Christians'.

Certainly, he would have had little time for the likes of Ian Paisley or most of the US Televangelists.

He did not sanction the inquisition, and he would have turned in his grave at much of the Christian Right today.

It would sicken him to see his 'followers' prepared to let a continent die of AIDS rather than use condoms. Or see regular church attenders support the death penalty.

The ignorance of Creationism, the intolerance of Homophobia.

Not in his name.

I don't find much written by Christ on the subject of sex. Love, yes. Sex, no. The only time he was asked to judge on this, he said 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone'.

But I see a lot about Pharasees walking by on the other side. About Good Samaritans. About the pure of heart.

I see a lot about not judging people. About forgiveness. About compassion. About common humanity. About....Love.

His God was not just a Jewish God. His God was the God of all men. His God hated war and persecution.

And his God hated poverty and injustice.

Christ was all about 'Turn the other cheek'.

In modern language, his message was 'Make Love, Not War'.

And when he got to his Father's house- he found it full of moneylenders and animals. I wonder, would he be any less disgusted today by those who take his name?

Perhaps it is an irony of our time. Christians no longer hear Christ's message; so many are the New Pharasees. And it is perhaps amongst the new 'Gentiles', the agnostics- even atheists- who decry traditional religion, that the TRUE Christian spirit is mostly to be found.

The Pharasees are too busy grovelling to their God and preaching at the sinner to hear the words of Christ the Man.

Too busy worrying about the chips in everyone else's eyes to see the logs in their own.

The Man was a truly great MAN.

One of the greatest who ever lived.

And maybe it would be a nice touch if just a few more of us could actually take the time during this season- between the presents and the food and the alcohol and the parties- to take a read of what he actually said and what he actually meant.

And wonder if he'd actually LIKE us.

Because if he wouldn't- then we're not doing it right.

You see- it's about being a good person. And it don't matter how often you go to church, it changes nothing.

And it doesn't matter who you sleep with, or how many, or whether you like to party. It doesn't matter.

Be nice to people. And tell the truth. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

So simple most of his own 'followers' seem to miss the fact he said it.

A new decade starts in ten days.

Two thousand years after his death, are we actually going to start listening?