“Jesus is the reason for the season!”
I remember the first time I heard this, saying to myself, “Yes, and the sky is blue.”
Yet on further reflection, I certainly understand the sentiment attempting to be expressed. For many, the connection between Jesus and Christmas has gone by the wayside.
One of my favorite book titles is “Stealing Jesus,” by Bruce Bawer. While I have read the book, what has stayed with me was the title, and more importantly, its implications. In part, what intrigued me was the premise that Jesus was simply an ‘object’ that someone could steal or take from another person. It is akin in my mind to the phrase, “My Jesus.” Because whether we are talking about baby Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus the Christ, none of these experiences of Jesus is, as it were, a possession to be taken. Fundamentally, the experience of Jesus, in however he has been made known to us, is relational and not possessional.
Part of the unspoken rationale for treating Jesus as a possession was, and still is, to be able to co-opt Jesus as well as his message for someone’s own personal gain. The clear signal being sent is that if I “own” Jesus, I control the narrative about who else possesses Jesus and who does not.
There is a great deal that I appreciate about Presiding Bishop Curry. At the top of my list is his elevating Jesus in our collective Episcopal life. He has done so by talking about a relationship with Jesus as, “loving, liberating, and life-giving.” A relationship that is so powerful that it impels those of us who have chosen to follow in the Way of Jesus to live a life that is loving, liberating and life-giving. A movement based on relationship with all and for all.
Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus and the season are about gratitude for the God whose unbounded love for us is manifested in our relationship with Jesus, through which our relationship to the rest of God’s creation becomes loving, liberating and life-giving!