Sunday, December 22, 2013
Christmas sermon brings back the "other peoples' children" issue
Today, the advent service before Christmas, at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington, offered a sermon by Judith Fulp-Eickstaedt, “Season of Longing: for the Child”. The sermon brought back a topic at First Baptist a few Christmases ago: Joseph, betrothed to Mary, had some explaining to do when Mary was with child. Either he had broken his vows, or Mary had, or something miraculous had certainly happened.
There’s a moral lesson in this we sometimes gloss over. People wind up being responsible for children they didn’t bring into the world. Is that what it means to “be a community”? This year, on the soap opera “Days of our Lives”, we say gay character Sonny (Freddie Smith) deliver the baby of bad girl Gabi in the wilderness in an escape situation, and wind up acting in many ways as the baby’s father anyway. And in a whimsical twist this past week, it really “cost him” (on my TV blog).
We often talk about the problems of the poor and of inequality as if they could be solved by public policy changes and money “above us”, when we all know solution comes down to earth, like upper level jet stream winds brought to the ground by heavy rain, with personal involvement. I talked about that today a little on the Issues Blog (in response to a Fareed Zakaria article) and a previous event at Trinity.
My biggest concern in all of these blog postings (or a big concern) has been, how those of us who are “different” (oh, we all are) should behave with respect to these problems. Now, to me a discussion of “personal ethics” makes sense when the surrounding society is stable enough and serious enough about human rights that personal actions really become relevant. Yes, American society certainly “qualifies”, for me at least. But if I lived in a society with “real persecution” (say, Uganda, or of course North Korea or tribal Pakistan or Afghanistan) I don’t think these musings would have much relevance. I find it hard to contemplate “eternal reward” if the surrounding society is so evil as to make any creative endeavor irrelevant. I’ve talked about my own idea of afterlife before elsewhere, but I think sometimes we have to start over.
Once the surrounding society “passes”, then I think the idea that someone us may have benefited from the sacrifices of others without realizing that, and enjoy “ill-gotten comforts” starts to become relevant. If we don’t deal with that, we can wind up paying a price – that is, paying for the sins of others.
This follows up on a discussion I had started last Sunday (Dec 15) here while in North Carolina.