Christmas Holidazed and Confused

As we near Christmas, I realize more and more that I dislike the holiday. Now Advent Sundays, the weeks leading up to Christmas are some of my favorite weeks within the church calendar, but I have a certain disdain for Christmas.

A part of me dwells on Christmases past; some years were good, spent with individuals who weren’t part of my immediate family, and some years it was lonely and depressing, Christmas spirit was extinct in those years. There’s also the part of me that dwells on Christmas present, and while I am content with my life I still want more out of it (why I’m going back to school among other things).

I can’t pinpoint it on these alone, there’s the part of me that abhors the commercialism of it all. Now don’t get me wrong, I love giving gifts (more than receiving them) and watching the “wow” in their eyes, but when the reasons for the Christmas holiday are misaligned, I’m prone to seethe a bit.
When it comes to gifts and receiving, I might / probably come across as ungrateful, but at this time in my life I would much rather the money used to purchase things for me go to a charity or organization of my choosing rather than some new bauble to entertain me for a short while.


I do what I can not to dwell on the haves and have-nots in my life, and when it comes to Christmas it isn’t any different. I am still pushing forward to make a better life for myself, hoping and desiring and working for Christmases to come when I’m not so dazed and confused by it all, rather I choose (because everything that is comes from choice) to transcend the bullshit and learn to accept Christmases in stride. Taking it all in and eating the meat and spitting out the bones.

This Christmas will be a meaningful one after all! 🙂

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

subvert the norm; Christmas Eve edition

Christmas Eve musings

It humbles me to think how God subverted the norm through Jesus. How he sent Jesus as a baby, not a conquering warrior. His presence was made known to lowly working class shepherds, not wealthy well-to-dos. He lived a life of love and grace that was modeled upon following not believing. He pointed out the faith of those who occupied his people’s lands and marveled in it. He wrestled with doubt, atheism, and the absence of God.

He demonstrated a way of life that turned everything on its head and was killed because of it. But 3 days later he shattered the walls of death, tore down the separation between God & humanity, and the division was no more because it was indeed finished.

May we continue to subvert the norms of today in the name of God, in the name of good to all. May we love till it hurts. May we unbind the shackles of legalism and self proclaimed religiosity, and extend and receive faith and grace to all. May we see and explore this good world through a lens of color, and not one that’s black and white. May we be part of the process of tikkun olam and perfect shalom.

Be blessed and continue to bless others!

~Nathanael

Adopted for Christmas (part 2)

Well…

Plans changed and my friend’s post-Christmas get together never came to be. 😦 I’m not completely bummed out, I am sad for my coworker’s sake that the get together didn’t happen because that’s her family and from what she has shared with me I know they mean a lot to her.

So I made some plans as I still worked the 7-5 shift at work, and those fell through, but I shook it off and made alternative plans to my alternative plans. 😉

Anchorman 2
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If you liked the first one, there’s a good chance you’ll like the second one as well. A lot of cameos, it was a good way to unwind after work and after other plans fell through. That’s me though, I am resilient and capable in finding alternative things to do when life happens, and it does happen all the time.

~Nathanael~

O Holy Night revised; personal contextualization to this Christmas carol

For the last 3 years when Christmas comes around and when the Christmas carol O Holy Night is sung, I alter a part of it a little bit:

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I am fully aware that slavery still exists in our world, but if I recall the song was written outside of United States, but when it did come to the United States it was in the time of slavery. With that being said, I get why it was written with slave added to it, but where do I find such conflict within the church today?
Certainly in the churches across America there isn’t a master-and-slave paradigm that exists. However there is a straight-vs-Gay paradigm at times; while there are churches that are accepting, affirming, and loving of members of the LGBT Community there are some churches that practice (whether they acknowledge it or not) exclusiveness not inclusiveness, judgment over love.

So I changed the words knowing this all too well as a straight ally, it is for my brothers and sisters in the LGBT Community whose voices are not heard within Christian circles, who are silenced intentionally as well as unintentionally. I sing for those who cannot sing, who have been kicked out of church because some Christians have not extended Christ-like love to them, I have met some individuals who have gone through this and it breaks my heart but I also know it breaks God’s heart as well.

***

Now this isn’t a post where I’m urging you to “do what I’m doing”, I’m writing this as a wake up call to Christians everywhere! End the marginalization of those who are the “other”; and it very well could mean that it is  someone who is like you more than it means someone not like you.

I recognize in my own life the “other” are Evangelical Calvinists who have a strong sense of believe rather than faith, who have hammered down their personal theology in a controlled and precise matter. Why do those who align themselves like this bother the hell out of me? …I once was like this myself.
In realizing this after the fact (to which it served as a building block not a stepping stone) I dislike who I was, but it is part of my story and I am believing that nothing is wasted, even in those years of creating and perpetuating us-vs-them paradigms.

Yet it is these individuals I need to put more time, more patience, and certainly more love into. It is these people I want to avoid at all costs, but as my pastor wisely put it “you can’t be inclusive to all if you’re exclusive to some”, dammit! Why do you have to be so…right? He is right, and I’m getting that it is like putting a puzzle together; I need all the pieces and not just the ones that strike my attention or are easy to assemble, because any exclusion of puzzle pieces makes for an incomplete puzzle.

Altering “O Holy Night” by saying Gay Man instead of Slave is something that I have no qualms about. Yet I realize that maybe I need to broaden it, because the Evangelical Calvinist is my brother and sister too. That! That is a line I need to sing, because I need to sing for them too. So maybe if I sing it fast enough I can sing Gay-man-and-Evangelical-Calvinist at the same time 😉 I will do my best to do so, because it’s more than a song to me, it’s a posture of  living as God would have me to, it’s living in a more Christ-like way.

~Nathanael~

Adopted for Christmas (part 1)

Having talked to my coworker about where I’m coming from, where I’ve been, and even where I am now she has decided to “adopt” me for Christmas.

She has put out there to a large extent the skeletons in her and her family’s life, and as she puts it “We have skeletons in our closet, but we take ours out to dance”. As macabre as that sounds, it sounds lovely to me. There are plenty of skeletons in my closet, and at times that impedes me in getting close and intimate with others because I ponder if I will be judged, if I will be discarded, if any ounce of a relationship we have will still exist once I put myself out there. These are all valid questions, and certainly it can blow up in someone’s face, it has happened to me before and will happen again, BUT I will keep putting myself out to those I am willing to put my trust in.

I will say this about the overarching familial closet of skeletons, they’re not healthy they’re musty and there’s a collective perspective at times of keep that shit out of sight and out of mind. But it, for better or worse, is a part of me and some times it is apart from me. I recognize that I need to address my issues more otherwise I sense I’d give in to the fear and learned helplessness would settle into my bones and I would be in a bad place that I wouldn’t want to leave. Fear still has its benefits in my life, it is a motivator and it is a tool; I let fear into my life long enough to let it course through my veins and then I release it and act on what I need to do at that present time.

I am encouraged to be going into an environment where there are issues and there are problems, but they have been dealt with and it has made them collectively stronger in a lot of ways. I am also looking forward to the element of celebrating the Christmas holiday in community that is inclusive.
Someday I hope to have an open door policy for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. I met a guy in Memphis whose family does this every year and it sounded amazing and I got a glimpse of bigger and better; a glimpse of what I want to transpire in my life when I get there, and more importantly a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven.

***

So with that I’m looking forward to Christmas now, to spend it with an awesome coworker and her family and friends. This is part one, so when Christmas has come and gone, so starts part two. 🙂

~Nathanael~