Advent is what Christians call the four weeks before Christmas. Christians are taught to live in the expectation that something new and wonderful is about to crash into reality, changing our way of life. Christians hope that God will initiate a new outpouring of creativity, and imagination, bringing the nations into a future of peace with justice for all. Christians call such a time the “second coming,” a time when the spirituality of Christ governs the nations.
Meanwhile, in the world where we now live, the body count of dead soldiers, who have no future, continues to escalate.The official number hovers around 3,800. But that doesn’t count that in 2005 alone there were 6,256 suicide deaths of Iraqi veterans. Nor does it count over 2.5 million Iraqi civilian refugees, nor approximately one million Iraqi civilian deaths.
We are certainly in a conflict of Christmas theologies in this country. On the one hand, there are growing numbers of spiritual activists who yearn for a world that can provide sustenance for all. On the other hand, there is the imperial American way of life that insists that only an “elect” are worthy of the bounty of the earth. This elect are certainly not the homeless, nor the working class, nor the middle class. The elect are few in number, those who live in the stratosphere, those who rake in over a million dollars a year. The rest of us are their wage slaves; we exist for their comfort and their amusement.
Meanwhile, percolating within the life of the Church is the revolutionary season of Advent. Percolating up from within the worship of the Church, is a yearning for a new order for the age, a pining for a radical change in values.With Mary, the mother of Jesus, Christians are hungry for the high and mighty to be toppled off their thrones. Spiritual Christians are seeking a future where the homeless are well fed, sheltered, and healed of their affliction. Advent anticipates the rich being sent away empty, but the poor being filled with bounty.
Our nation is caught in the crosshairs of a theological cultural conflict: the imperial theology of blood-cult, with its insistence on endless war, the curtailment of civil rights, and the looting of commonwealth for the segregated few, versus a theology of Advent that is good news for the poor. The yearning for a new beginning when wealth is redistributed, when the homeless build their own homes, cook their own meals, and live with laughter and joy as members and partners in society. A world without a war, a world without segregated wealth, a world worthy of human beings, with the birth of babies born in stables.
Beneath the tinsel talk of Christmas there is a widening chasm, and a call for commitment. Indeed, which theology rules the world today? Which theology does your faith community practice and preach?
Rev. Rich Lang is pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard, and can be contacted through www.tumseattle.org.