Monday, December 23, 2002

Summer Jesus downunder (warning: long rant)
The Word became human being and … lived among us. Which means that Jesus grew up a Jew, telling Jewish jokes with Jewish accents, playing Jewish sports and Jewish music and hearing Jewish stories of origins. The word became human and … lived among us Jews.

However, 2000 years later, Jesus Jewishness seems to have been lost. I remember vividly a Chinese man in Canton, China telling me that Jesus was a Westerner. And so, over time, this Jewish baby has become wrapped, not in Jewish swandling cloth, but in holly and mistletoe, in snow and Santa. The word became human and .. lived among a Northern hemisphere.

Please hear me, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s what the Word is meant to do. It’s meant to dwell in the culture around it. John Drane talks about the Word being a seed, planted, that grows in another culture. Jesus needs to take root in Jewish soil, in American or English soil.

The danger is not that Jesus grows in Northern Hemisphere soil, but that Jesus is given to the world as the Northern Hemisphereness Word. In reality the Christmas message asks for the Word to dwell among us, for the seed planted in the land of the long white cloud, for God to dwell among Kiwis.

Take for instance the Church year. The church year includes 4 weeks of Advent, leading up to Christmas. Now, in the Northern Hemisphere, this all gets tied up with the longest night. The earth is dark and frozen. The body cries out for sun and for warmth. Then just after the longest night, when the cry of light is loudest, comes the birth of Jesus. Hope dawns. Days start to lengthen. Summer will come. And so the earth’s rythms are mixed with the birth of Jesus.

If Jesus is a Northern Hemisphere Jesus, wrapped in Northern Hemisphere symbols and rythms, then it will be easy to leave Jesus behind as we head for the beach and the barby.

Downunder we celebrate Advent and Christmas in summer. Our light is long. The days are warm and humid. We’re all closing down for our summer holidays. These rythym’s of earth need to get mixed up with the birth of Jesus. And so the birth of Jesus is about us in the South entering our annual Sabbath rest. It’s about God mixed with play, for on the 7th day God rested. It’s about the full warmth and vigour of creation. This Jesus who comes to us as God ablaze with energy and with power to renew the cosmos. This Word became human being and … needs to live among us [Kiwis].

May the Word, who became human being, truly live among us this Southern Hemisphere Christmas.

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