All claims to greatness must pass the Psalm 126 test. There must be more than one witness. The other witness is the consensus of the rest of the planet. Do the Nations also agree that the Lord has done great things for us? If not, our greatness isn’t Psalm 126 greatness:
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream. 2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy. 3 Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 4 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.
With Psalm 126 greatness, us and them agree about what’s great. Since we all share the same round habitat, no one really wins unless everyone wins. That’s because winning at others’ expense is actually losing, kind of like winning a dart game on your own sheetrock. Instead, Psalm 126 pushes us to imagine a dreamlike scenario complete with eruptions of incredulous laughter and blurry-eyed shouts of joy, where the winnings spill over to everyone else.
It does seem like a dream considering the past and present. Now it seems the watercourses of the Negev are flowing with tears. But the exiles had their dream come true and it was a win/win with the known world.
I believe each generation is asked anew to dream of a future that acts more like an upward spiral for the known world than a pyramid scheme for kings. To make dreams come true in a Psalm 126 sort of way. Our Earth has certainly been sown with tears. When do we get to harvest the joy?
According to Mary the mother of Jesus, Christmas is all about public accountability, regime change and wealth redistribution. Here’s her practical application of the first Christmas:
“He has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”
Mary, honestly, some would say that you are over politicizing Christmas and distracting from the true meaning. But for others, I believe your interpretation of Christmas can’t come soon enough. The proud continue to feverishly carve up the remaining resources in their hunger games while procuring tribute from the masses. Maniacal world leaders are still trying to win at the game of thrones while their people are just trying to make a living, or simply live. In their curious preoccupation with making sure no one has any more than they need, the conceited amass more money than most of us would know what to do with. A house of cards.
I believe we should listen more to our pregnant teenagers with their empire-shattering faith hope and love. I would feel much safer with them in charge.
Mary, your vision for the planet is exceedingly greater than ours. It’s not just great, it’s magnificent. May it be done as you say, and may all generations call you blessed.
If at any point in your life you’ve ever experienced unconditional love from anyone, you’re probably going to pull through this. Even if you have to endure some pretty brutal shit. I believe when someone loves you unconditionally they deposit within you an endless spring that continues to water you for the rest of your life even when you don’t realize it. Even if you didn’t realize you were being unconditionally loved when it happened.
I think this is the way the Hebrew prophet Isaiah felt about his deity: “For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.” (Isaiah 61.11)
For all their faults, deities seem to be ace at getting people to feel unconditionally loved.
I believe that’s because unconditional love is our way of unleashing divinity on each other.
See here for more about what Isaiah and some other ancient Jews thought about what happens to people who get loved unconditionally.
We’re obviously not going to be able to just sit on our hands and trust the powers that be to fix all this. It got this way on their watch.
Oh by the way, we are the powers that be.
Since Advent/cross/easter was pretty much the death knell for all earthy powers (no thanks to them), they’re all just playing grab-ass on their way to irrelevance. They’re not wearing any clothes either, even though they think they’re pretty spiffy.
2 Peter 3:13 – But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
The story of the universe is one of rebirth, a rebirth that is a new creation of all things. The liturgy, and indeed all religion is at its best when it faithfully bears witness to this story. During Advent the Liturgy directs us to reenact and re-envision the new birth, both individually and communally. In this way the story of Jesus is truly the story of humanity. If Jesus is of one being with the father, and we’re one with Jesus, then all life is at least sacred, if not wholly divine. That means the good news is that we as a singular creation are the ones who get to (must) make it happen. It means everyone has to get on board or it won’t work. One might even say that the good news needs to go out to the ends of the Earth or something like that.