A Christmas Morning Wish for Everyone

 I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas. This piece of mine was originally posted on Christmas Day, 2007 on another site. 

This has been a challenging year for me in a lot of ways, yet I find myself feeling even more than the usual holiday spirit right now as I sit at the keyboard, waiting for Santa to come down my chimney. Wait! I don’t have a chimney! Oh well, I still believe! Well, the part about Santa, who can say? The rest of it, I’m still pretty big on all the good stuff that we think about when the holidays roll around each year. No doubt a lot of you feel the same.

The Christmas story does hold a lot of meaning for me. I’m not quite sure if I still believe all of it, all the nuances and consequences and so on; not quite like one “believes it” when the assembled faithful say the Apostles Creed together at Midnight Mass. Some will be doing exactly that in just a few hours, perhaps some of you.

Yet it doesn’t seem at all “funny” to me that God comes to us whenever it suits his/her purpose. Not entirely sure if “he” did in that particular, historical way. Being raised in a Christian family and having gone part-way through seminary a few years ago, I do lean in that direction. But I’ve come to see some things in a different light now that I’ve spent a little better than a half-century on this planet. This planet where almost a billion people believe that God became incarnate, was born of a young woman who had never “known” her betrothed. And that his coming among us in that way was the beginning of a Divine plan to make it possible for all of his creatures to enjoy unending fellowship with him and with one another! In this life and in the next! Now that’s a story! One we humans have been telling one another for a very long time, and I’m quite sure we’ll be telling it for a long time to come.

I’ve been struggling for so many years now about exactly how much of the story still “works” for me and all of that. But what I’ve never doubted is that God, or the Divine, does come to us and among us all the time. And I’m finally in that phase of life where I’ve learned to look for it, to expect it and to embrace it. And I know that the other really big thing about Christmastime is to get a bit closer to my brothers and sisters who also bear the image of the Divine One in their souls and on their beaming faces. Some of them were raised on the same stories I was; this one about God being born of a virgin, and many others.

Some, of course, have heard and embraced and celebrated different stories. I’m not very inclined to quibble about the particulars at this point in my life. I’m quite sure that God would love to see us move a little closer together at this time of year, and to go on telling those stories; especially that one about God robed in human flesh, living and dying as one of us. And I’m quite sure that the heart of the Divine is pleased when we carry forward “his” mission to strip away that illusion that our sins, imperfections, and much less, our differences, should separate us from one another or from his Divine Heart.

Well, Christmas Eve has progressed, as it will, into Christmas morning as I’m wrapping up this little holiday message. And I’m sitting here, luminous and expectant, like a six year old waiting for Santa to appear. Like Simeon in the temple, waiting to bless the infant Jesus, knowing then that he has seen and embraced, quite literally, the Divine plan to end our sinful and deadly illusions of separateness. I’m expectant, waiting in earnest to see and to embrace the next manifestation of the Divine. In you, in her, in us. Perhaps–and wouldn’t this be a great story–perhaps in and across many countries and cultures, in four billion human hearts at once!

A wish, a dream, a fervent hope… Perhaps that’s all it is. But a hope to hold close to one’s heart on Christmas morning. God bless each of you today and throughout the year to come. May you be blessed to see the image of the Divine, of the Christ-child in yourself–and in one another.

Ben Lawrence Basile
Christmas morning, 2020

© 2007 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Divinity and Gender

Introductory note: if you’ve read more than one or two posts on this site, you may have noticed that female pronouns–she and her–are sometimes used when describing God and not male pronouns only. If you’ve been wondering why this is so, this post will go a long way towards explaining it.

If you were raised in the Church–as I was–you grew up with a definite idea that God was a dude.

You know what I mean. I think we all imaged “him” as a grandfather-type. A man, say in his 70’s, with a long gray beard and wearing a pretty spiffy robe.

A robe that looked like a cross between the one worn by your favorite priest and that awesome one that Charlton Heston was sporting when they shot The Ten Commandments.

It took a full thirty years or so for me to realize that the way I imaged God was just that and it didn’t affect the actual nature of the Divine One at all.

It took even longer–and completing a year of Seminary–to see clearly that the ways any of us think of God are colored by a thousand different variables, including what our early religious training was like, cultural biases and so much more and vary greatly from one person, one believer to another.

And it’s worth saying, once again, that none of our images or conceptions of God affect God’s true nature in any way! The map is not the territory!

The writings we have embraced and believe contain God’s revelation were written by mortal, fallible men and were the product of the times in which they were written.

The men–and they were all men–who produced the many books of our Bible were immersed in cultures that were thoroughly Patriarchal and saw little-to-no value in the contributions of women to their cultures and their literature.

I’m thinking it would be more accurate to say that none of the men driving the bus in that time had the slightest idea about what womens’ thoughts about the nature of God might have been.

And the writings we see as being sacred and containing the revelations of the Divine One sprang from a culture that was Patriarchal, completely male-driven and that is still influencing the ways we think about God today.

If you are embracing a concept of God as a wise, bearded old dude, let me invite you to take a step back and see this in a new light. It can be truly transformative.

Whatever else we may opine about God’s nature, I think we have general agreement that he/she is transcendent, is wholly-other and that the ways we describe or image “him” tell only part of the story.

When the story we tell about God’s nature and being reflect the whole of humanity and not only the male half, it’s a more complete and more accurate depiction and can help to end the systemic bias against women.

This bias is real, it’s very easy to see and it’s been a stain on religious communities and on the Church since day one.

God’s a man, you say?! Really?

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.