On Saturday evening, I went to a concert by a choral group that my partner, Daniel is in. It was structured in the style of a Lessons and Carols serivce, with songs interspersed with readings from Scripture and writers. One reading was from the Bishop Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran priest that was assinated in the early 80's. He describes what Advent is all about:
Advent should admonish us to discover in each brother or sister that we greet, in each friend whose hand we shake, in each beggar who asks for bread, in each worker who wants to use the right to join a union, in each peasant who looks for work in the coffee groves, the face of Christ. Then it would not be possible to rob them, to cheat them, to deny them their rights. They are Christ, and whatever is done to them Christ will take as done to himself. This is what Advent is:
Christ living among us.
I think it's a powerful statement, especially in this time when those who call themselves Christians are working hard to not be Christ-like to those who are gay. But, in some way, that's too easy for some of us. I mean, for those of us who work for justice by feeding the hungry or practicing radical welcome to agree with this and even think we are sitting damn pretty in God's eyes. We love those who are different and welcome them into our lives. We are not like those horrible people who don't help the less fortunate, or practice hospitality to those who don't look like ther rest of us.
But the thing is, we are not simply called to see Christ in the poor single mother, or the young gay man, we are also called to see Christ in those who are...well, assholes.
Here in Minnesota, a woman has been elected to Congress that is not loved by many in this state. Here name is Michelle Bachmann and she's made quite a name for herself as a state senator. For several years, she has tried to put forth a bill that would put the definition of marriage up for a vote in a referendum. If that passed, same-sex marriage and its equivalents would be banned (no matter that there is already a law that bans gay marriage). Luckily, the bills were bottled up serval times and never been voted on by Minnesotans.
Needless to say, she hasn't made many friends among the gay community and their allies and rightly so. She has been called many things, none of them kind.
I don't like Ms. Bachman. I think she is a mean and spiteful person and I don't understand why she is now becoming a congressperson. But the fact is, Christ died for her. She is loved by God and as a follower of Christ, I am called to love her.
In the Bible, Jesus calls us to love our enemies. It's funny how often I hear about that verse and how people hurl it towards others, but how seldom it's followed. When Jesus uttered those words during the Sermon on the Mount, you have to wonder if people were offended by his words. Jesus was asking the people there, most of them Jews, to love their Roman oppressors. That would be a hard thing to hear, something that seemed almost callous. How could they love the Romans?
How could I love Michelle Bachman? It's not easy, but I think I am called to. That's what a follower of Christ does. That doesn't mean I will ignore her actions, but it does mean that I see her as a child of God and respond in love.
During Advent, we talk a lot about Christ becoming incarnate, or becoming flesh and blood and living among us. I sometimes think we really don't understand the full implications of that. We like to talk about Christ becoming a sweet baby or that Christ came to the poor (we tend to romanticize the poor, instead of seeing them as humans just like everybody else). We make Christ kind of sweet and nice and pitched his tent with these nice people. It's kinda like Christ joined the PTA or something. Christ becomes incarnate with a buch a of nice people, but not those mean and nasty homophobes or racists or gasp...Republicans.
But the fact is Incarnation means Christ became one with a humanity that was corrupt and dark. A man who knew no sin made his way on earth with some truly bad people. Christ did this because God loved all of creation, even the rotten apples, which would be all of us in reality.
So, I'm going to love Michele Bachman knowing she has the face of Christ. Yes, I work against her actions which harms people, but I will also see her as a child of God and pray for her salvation.
"For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," says Paul in his letter to the Romans. I'm not perfect. I fall short. The glorious fact is the Christ came and saved me, and not just me, but all of creation.
Michele Bachman, child of God. May you love as Christ love and may I as well. Amen.