Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas hope

It is hard to have hope, isn't it, when the world is so full of violence and the Earth herself is under such assault. And so I bring you an excerpt from an opinion piece in the Washington Post by E. J. Dionne Jr. called "The Enabling Virtue":

Even more than faith and love, I think, hope is closest to the heart of the Christmas story. In an anthropological sense, Christmas celebrates new life and birth, a theme that crosses cultures and traditions. This sense of Christmas has a beauty all its own and embodies a nearly universal quest for renewal.

But in the theological sense as understood by Christians, the holiday is even more radical. Christianity -- drawing on the Jewish scriptures, particularly Isaiah -- revolutionized the concept of the divine by putting aside deities who dominated humanity in favor of a God who entered the world in human form.

Thus were authoritarian conceptions swept away in favor of a loving God sympathetic to creation and empathetic toward human suffering. Think about the line from John's Gospel: "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." John was not some 1960s hippie. He was offering something very new and important, a trustworthy God who inspired hope.

Somehow, in spite of everything, I still believe in Love and that all love will last - whether the part of us that knows the way we know now lasts or not. And that gives me true hope.

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