December 27, 2017
By Sidat Balgobin.
Scripture: Galatians 4: 4-7 (NRSV)
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
Perhaps you have seen the recent pictures of real life slavery going on in Libya right now. It reminds me of images depicted of slavery in the 1600’s. Hundreds of years and we are still enslaving others. This is unimaginable cruelty! Not exactly the images of Jesus in the manger or Santa arriving with gifts for our children.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he tells us we are no longer slaves, but children of God, heirs. Slavery was a part of life even way back then. The challenge for me is to look deeply and honestly to see the ways in which I think and act like a slave. This takes some digging as it goes against everything I hold to be true. After all, we are free, not slaves.
Yet, if we are honest, perhaps we can see ways in which we do act as slaves - slaves to our conscious or unconscious self images. Do we seek to be secure, comfortable, noticed, appreciated? Do we seek to be seen as wise, compassionate, loving? The Jesuit priest and spiritual teacher Anthony DeMello told a story about a caravan traveling through the desert. One night the king was walking around the camp and noticed a loose camel. Not able to find a rope to tie him with the other camels, the king went through the motions of tying him up. The next morning as the caravan was set to leave, a man came to the king and reported that they couldn’t leave as one of the camels wouldn’t budge. The king told him to go and pretend to untie him. Doing this, the camel was free to move.
I relate to this camel. I know I am a slave to my own fears, my conscious and unconscious prejudices and desires. This is my conditioning - and we all have them. We are aware of some, others we are not. Yet we can see them in our actions and reactions if we look honestly. They are there in the way we live and react to others and to life. How then do we move from slavery to be free, to live as a child of God? It may begin with a willingness to see. And seeing, soften our vision to an awareness of the Presence of God within us. This is an awareness of the Light that is already within us. It is a Light of Truth, Redemption, and Love.
The Christmas story includes three wise men following a distant star. It was a journey of faith. It was a small caravan of their own. Christmas Day is now over and some of us may be tuckered out. We may need to give ourself the gift of rest. Looking deeply takes patience and courage. The gift of looking, of wisdom is freedom. The world is in chaos. But when has it not been so? As followers of Jesus, we are called to act to end injustice in the world. If we are honest, there is also chaos in ourselves. This may be harder to recognize. In the words of Nietzsche, it is through this inner chaos that we give birth to a dancing star. May we be blessed by the miracle of Christmas and share that blessing with the world.
Loving God, help us to see ourselves more fully and be healed by your love. Bring love and awareness to this world so in need of compassion and truth. Bless us all and help us to act with integrity and courage. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Rev. Sidat Balgobin is a retired UCC minister, a Christian mystic and active Spiritual Director. He lives in Norwich, CT.
December 27, 2017