The first Christmas as a disruptive event

peace-on-earthDis-rupt: to destroy, usually temporarily, the normal continuance or unity of; interrupt: Telephone service was disrupted for hours.

If you work on the fringes of hazards and hazard policy, as I do, words such as  disrupt, disruption, disruptive over time tend toward a wholly negative connotation., such as in the example of telephone disruption cited above. Or worse. Sandy’s disruption. The Newtown, Connecticut shooting. The fiscal cliff. September 11. Katrina. Fukushima.

A disruption can never be anything good.

Or can it?

Suppose the “normal continuance or unity” being disrupted is not something good, but something negative, such as the chronic normalcy of dysfunction, or unhappiness, or meaninglessness, or worse. Suppose, to take an extreme, what was disrupted was a continuance of our alienation or loss of contact with that which is good and loving and decent and ennobling in our lives. Suppose such alienation had been the business-as-usual scenario. What then?

All of us have seen this negative aspect play out in our own lives. Whenever we are confronted with our shortcomings, when we see the look of hurt in a loved one’s eyes, or we let down our co-workers, or we are forced to acknowledge to ourselves that we have fallen short of our potential in some way, something in us dies. And shame and isolation become the new normal. [But we experience this through 21st century eyes…hold that thought…we’ll return to it later.]

This goes way back. Take for example, Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden. The immediate consequence? That company of God they had so enjoyed the day before became something for them to avoid. They couldn’t bring themselves to keep fellowship with God in the way they had before. They tried to hide when He approached. For thousands of years, parents told their children this story, and everyone, teller and listener, young and old alike, understood the message. It needed no explanation. In fact it provided one…an explanation for pervasive presence of this  nearly universal suffering…and its normal continuance.

Then, one day, out of nowhere, this unutterably fatiguing, motivation-sapping thought pattern was disrupted. No one saw it coming. Even the people looking for it missed it. But in a humble manger, to a teenaged mother and her puzzled husband of little means, a child was born – not just to them but unto us – a child was given. This child would grow up to be a man and tell us that he didn’t come from the world of Mary and Joseph – our world – so much as enter into it. He wouldn’t happen to be caught and crucified so much as he would strategically arrange bring about such an end for himself…

…in order to atone for our shortcomings and in so doing not only embody and reaffirm God’s unending love for us, but disrupt the hold of evil on this world forever.

In retrospect, these don’t seem to have been deceitful or delusional claims. Hardly anyone had heard of Jesus when he died, but for 2000 years his impact has continued to grow. Little in the world has been the same since. His influence seems to be growing instead of dying out. We’re told today that one third of the world identify themselves with Him and what He stands for. Life and history aren’t controlled experiments, but his impact has been so much greater than that of others in similar circumstances, it’s easier to believe there was and is something special about Him.

This calls to mind the hymn[1]:

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!

O night divine, the night when Christ was born;

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!


Merry Christmas to you and all you hold dear.

 

 

 

 


[1] You know it sounds better set to music. Here’s a link to Celtic Woman/Chloe Agnew…one of many you might choose.

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3 Responses to The first Christmas as a disruptive event

  1. Praj says:

    Hi Bill. Thanks for this post. I really enjoyed reading it as I have been exploring my faith.

    Have a wonderful holiday and Merry Christmas.

    Best,
    Praj

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