Every year my confirmation curriculum focuses on Jesus during Advent. While our reflections on Jesus’ message and the meaning of his death sometimes seem out of place when juxtaposed with the themes of Advent—it’d be better, I suppose, to do this during Lent—it is definitely meaningful to study Jesus with our confirmands during this season in which we contemplate the mysteries of the incarnation.
Thought I don’t tend to quote him directly, it occurs to me after reading his recent post on Christmas that I’m practically channeling Marcus Borg when I give my Jesus talks to the confirmation class. His entire post is worth reading, but here is the part that most resonates with me:
For many centuries – now almost a thousand years – the most common forms of Western Christianity have emphasized that Jesus’s primary significance is that he died to pay for our sins. This notion affects the meaning of Christmas: Christmas is the birth of the one who will save us from our sins so that we can go to heaven. It results in a radical domestication and individualization of the story of Jesus and Christmas.
To say the obvious: Christmas matters for Christians because Jesus matters for Christians. And what was Jesus about? His message, his passion, was about the coming of the Kingdom of God. It was about the transformation of this world into a different kind of world. It was about the downfall of domination systems and the birth of a world of justice and peace. Of course, the Kingdom of God is also about our individual transformation through loving the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and strength. It is about our transformation and the transformation of the world.
The muting of this message by common Christianity and by the commercialization of Christmas is the real war on Christmas.
Amen, Brother Borg.