I wish it were Easter…

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Let me be open: I don’t like Christmas at all. Ahww, I know, that sounds harsh. And I have the impression that it gets worse – with my feelings not with Christmas – every year. It has less to do with other people who are alienated to the true meaning of Christmas and mistake shopping and free time with the birth of Christ, which is the real reason why we actually are going to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas is my tender point and my Achilles heel. Normally you could say Dresden with its old buildings and different Christmas Markets like the popular Striezelmarkt with its long tradition is one of the best cities to celebrate Christmas. When you drive through the city you can see into a lot of windows which are richly and carefully decorated with Christmas asseccories. The people of Dresden care about Christmas traditions and build a whole safe world of Christmas memories around themselves.

Additional to this traditional overdose I guess another reason because I’m so depressed during the Christmas time may be the early darkness and the short days with its early darkness because of the winter. But surprise, surprise, I can prophesy for the 2nd January my mood will go up to nearly 100 % and the emotional spell of Christmas over me will be vanishing like a bad dream in the early morning.

If I liked and drank alcohol I certainly would drink alcohol until I become benumbed not to feel my emotions these days. A few years ago I fled to Turkey but nowadays I have neither time nor means to travel. In the lobby of the hotel I was welcomed by a richly decorated Christmas tree. But that wasn’t so bad because the environment was different. Another way to push away my Christmas sadness is to work. I keep myself busy to push aside the past of my safe childhood. A good remedy to deal with my Christmas mood you can see right here: I guess one of the best means is to get familiar with your feelings and to untangle them with words. To accept them and to accept yourself with patience. O.K. that’s the way it is. That’s the way I am. That’s my emotional structure. I overcame it the last years and I will certainly make it this year and in the hopefully following years in the future.

And Christmas is not about my emotional constitution, not about special Christmas feelings which we have cultivated in our western Christmas tradition. As we Mary and Joseph lived in their own daily reality. They were oppressed by the hard life then, dictated by the Roman empire and they were poor. Of course as a man I can’t understand how it is to be pregnant but I assume to travel by feet or on a donkey and to be pregnant certainly wasn’t easy and full of sorrows according to the future. But what at last counted weren’t the hard circumstances but the one who carried Mary in her womb. Looking at him gives me peace. Listening to Mary’s prayer I can find my peace too besides my broken emotional psychic structure according to Christmas.

“My soul magnifies the Lord.
47     My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
48     for he has looked at the humble state of his servant.
For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.
49     For he who is mighty has done great things for me.
    Holy is his name.
50     His mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him.
51 He has shown strength with his arm.
    He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down princes from their thrones.
    And has exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things.
    He has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has given help to Israel, his servant, that he might remember mercy,
55     As he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)

3. Advent: Weihnachtsgefühl?

“Haben Sie denn schon alles schön dekoriert?” fragte mich letzte Woche eine Verkäuferin, in deren Geschäft ich öfter einkaufen gehe. “Ach wissen Sie, ich lebe allein und da hat man als Mann nicht so viel mit Weihnachtsschmuck am Hut.” Aber die Verkäuferin war irgendwie von mir enttäuscht – und sagte das dann auch, zwar mit einem Lachen, aber das sollte nur ihre Enttäuschung überspielen. 

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Räuchermännchen

Von Markscheider – Eigenes Werk, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23270738

schwibbogen_fenster
Schwippbögen

By Devilsanddust – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8755072

Ich war schon seit Jahren nicht mehr in Westdeutschland und mir fehlen die Vergleichsmöglichkeiten, aber hier in Dresden mit Striezelmarkt, Weihnachtsstollen, Glühwein, Räuchermännchen und Schwippbögen aus dem Erzgebirge, pflegt man noch die Tradition.

Aber schade, vielleicht seit dem Tod meiner Eltern oder auch durch mein Theologiestudium, ist in mir das Weihnachtsgefühl wie eine Christbaumkugel, die vom Baum fällt, in tausend Stücken auf dem Boden der Tatsachen zerbrochen. Das Stück heile Kindheit, das sich gerade in Weihnachten verdichtet hat, ist von der Realität des Lebens überholt worden.

Wie viele flüchten vor Weihnachten in den Süden, und werden dann in der Hotellobby von einem reich dekorierten Weihnachtsbaum erwartet.

Muss ich mich jetzt schämen oder sogar als Traditonsbanause schuldig fühlen, weil mir nicht der Sinn nach Weihnachten steht, und ich sehnsüchtig darauf warte, dass die Weihnachtszeit wie ein imaginärer Schneesturm über meinen Kopf hinwegzieht, und am 2. Januar  der Alltag wieder in mein Leben einzieht?

Nun, Traditionen müssen sich erst über die Jahrhunderte herausbilden und entwickeln dabei sogar ein Eigenleben und werden wichtiger als der Inhalt auf den sie ursprünglich hinweisen wollten. Mir scheint, weil wir nichts mehr mit Weihnachten anzufangen wissen, ist es so wichtig, ob es Weihnachten schneit.

Weihnachten ist zur Traditionshülse mit Puderzuckerüberzug geworden, zum Wirtschaftsfaktor, zur Geldmaschine des Einzelhandels, zur traditionellen Gefühlsduselei, die uns wie Lemminge zu Weihnachten in die Kirchen treibt. In Kirchen, die versuchen über das Jahr für die Menschen durch Konzerte und Ausstellungen attraktiv zu sein, weil sonst kaum noch jemand in die Kirche geht. (Situation in Deutschland)

Wären wir die Hirten, die staunend das neugeborene Jesuskind vor 2000 Jahren in der Krippe liegen sehen, würde dort im Stall nicht rechts ein Fernseher stehen, und links daneben ein geschmückter Weihnachtsbaum, würde sich nicht eine Gruppe von Kindern darüber streiten, wer die neue PlayStation zuerst bedienen darf. Nein, wären wir die Hirten, würden wir dort ein kleines, jüdisches Neugeborenes mit seinen Eltern sehen. Wir würden dort Armut, Schmutz und Erbärmlichkeit erleben. Aber auch die unaussprechliche Freude über das Neugeborene, die jeglichen Mangel überstrahlt.

Abseits des Mainstreams, jenseits der überfüllten Einkaufstempel, ja, sogar jenseits der überfüllten Weihnachtsgottesdienste, die unseren Traditionshunger stillen sollen, wird vor den Toren der Stadt ein Außenseiter geboren. Jesus kommt in diese Welt, aber die Welt erkennt ihn nicht.

Er ist Licht in der Finsternis, aber die Finsternis versteht ihn nicht. Sie versteht ihn so wenig, wie sie noch etwas mit Gott anfangen kann. Jesus bekommt kein Asyl in dieser Welt. Wie ein gescheiterter Superstar steht er zwar kurz im Rampenlicht der Öffentlichkeit, verschwindet aber bald wieder in der Versenkung. Zu steil seine Thesen, zu gewagt sein Lebensstil. “Liebe Gott und deinen Nächsten.” Höre auf dein Gewissen und suche Gott in der Stille.

Dort in diesem stillen Jenseitsland, wo weder Kaufen noch Verkaufen, wo weder HD noch Highspeed etwas zählen, dort in diesem Jenseitsland, das sich nicht im Jenseits befindet oder vor den Toren der Stadt, sondern in deinem eigenen Herzen, nur dort in der Stille kannst du zu dir selber finden, nur dort kann Gott in deinem Herzen geboren werden.

damit du leben kannst

Der Eine, der am Rand der Gesellschaft lebt,
weil Gott in ihm Gestalt annimmt,
treffe dich in der Stille,
damit du Gott erkennen kannst.

Der Eine, der für diese Welt zu schade ist,
die ihn ans Kreuz nagelt,
weil sie ihn nicht versteht,
berühre deine Wunden,
damit du leben kannst.

Der Eine, der aus Gott geboren ist,
der sich selbst vergisst,
der lebt,
weil Gott ihm alles ist,
segne dich.

3rd Advent: Christmas Feeling?

Have you already decorated everything pretty?” asked me a saleswoman last week in a shop where I often go shopping. “Oh, you know, I live alone and as a man I don’t have so much affinity for Christmas decoration.” But somehow the saleswoman was disappointed in me – and then she also said that, although with a laugh, but that only should overshadow her disappointment.

800px-raachermannel_moosmannel
Räuchermännchen

 

Von Markscheider – Eigenes Werk, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23270738

schwibbogen_fenster
Schwippbögen

By Devilsanddust – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8755072

Since years I wasn’t in West Germany and I lack the possibilities to compare, but here in Dresden with Striezelmarkt, stollen, mulled wine, Räuchermännchen and Schwippbogen, traditions are maintained.

But what a pity, maybe since the death of my parents or maybe also through my studying of Theology, my Christmas feeling has been broken in thousand pieces at the ground of facts like a Christmas bauble which is falling from the tree. The piece of save childhood, which just concentrated in Christmas has been overhauled by reality of life.

How many flee from Christmas to South, and then become expected in the lobby of the hotel by a rich decorated Christmas tree.

Have I now to be ashamed and to feel guilty as a philistine of tradition, because I am not in the mood for Christmas, and I longingly wait that Christmas time passed overhead like an imaginary snow storm, and that everyday life starts at the 2nd January again?
Well, traditions first have to form over centuries and they even develop a life of their own and are becoming more important as their content at which they originally wanted to point to. It seems to me, because we can’t do anything with Christmas, that it is so important if it is snowing on Christmas.

Christmas has becoming to an empty shell of tradition with a cover of powdered sugar, to an economic factor, to a money machine of retail, to a traditional sentimentalism, which drive us like lemmings at Christmas into the churches. In churches, which try to be attractive for people through concert and exhibitions over the year, because else hardly anyone goes to church. (Situation in Germany)

If we were the shepherds, which are astonished to see the newborn Jesus child 2000 years ago in the manger, we wouldn’t see the TV set standing on the right there in the stable and aside on the left a decorated Christmas tree, wouldn’t a group of children quarrel  with each other, who is allowed to use the PlayStation first. No, if we were the shepherds, we we would see there a little, Jewish newborn with its parents. We would experience there poverty, dirt and shabbiness. But also a unspeakable joy about the newborn, which outshines every lacking.

Aside the mainstream, beyond the overcrowded shopping temples, yes, even beyond the overcrowded Christmas services, which shall sate our hunger for tradition, an outsider is being born outside the gates of the city. Jesus comes into this world, but the world doesn’t recognize him.

He is light in darkness, but the darkness doesn’t understand him. It understands him as little as it can’t do anything with God. Like a failed superstar he stands shortly in the spotlights of publicity, vanishes than soon in thin air. To steep his theses, to daring his lifestyle. “Love God and your Next.” Listen to your consciense and look for God in silence.
There in this silent beyond land, where neither buying nor selling, where neither HD nor high-speed means anything, there in this beyond land, which is not in the beyond or outside the gates of the city, but in your own heart, only there in the silence you can find yourself, only there God can be born in your heart.

So that you can live
The One, who lives at the margin of society,
because God takes shape in him,
meet you in silence,
that you can recognize God.

The One, who is too precious for this world,
which nails him to the cross,
because it doesn’t understand him,
touches your wounds,
so that you can live.

The One, who is born out of God,
who is oblivious to himself,
who lives,
because God is everything to him,
bless you.

2nd Advent: Yes, is it already Christmas?

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How the set phrase says: Everything is a question of perspective. The Christians look since 2000 years backwards in those dark night in which the ox baas, the donkey even a donkey is, the sheep bleat, the angels sing and a child cries. The child is hardly to recognize. Hidden in the dark history, kitschified by traditon or modern alienated as at the Striezelmarkt in Dresden, which is advertising with a life-size manger. The manger under the Christmas tree with its bowl heads and cubic forms reminds me rather of Playmobil in life-size than the Holy Night. But that is a matter of taste.

By the way I am wondering about myself, how seemingly synchronized, I start preaching the time around Christmas, or Good Friday and Easter. Although I get no money for it. To mention money and Christmas in one breath is not tasteless but realistic.

And when you hear the interviewed clergymen and clergywomen at Christmas time you could smirk if it weren’t so sad. How the church nowadays seems to limit its identity to the Christmas service, which is like an ice floe driven through the ice sea of climate change, when church is proud of full Christmas services as if everything were O.K. and their whistling in the dark were no shame offence!

Christmas is always the same old story like in the movie “Groundhog Day”. In the language of the church this is called ritual, something that takes place according to the same rules.

Like I said: Everything is a question of perspective. Past, presence and future. You can live only today. That’s clear. “Live here and now” knows every child. But we know how much our past influences our today. May it the bad influence of our wrong nutrition or other unhealthy habits like smoking or underexercising in the past which make us ill today. Or old documents surface today which charge us of a tax offence.

Our Christmas 2016 although we remember a 2000 year old event in the past, is in front of us in the future. Like I said, every year I get agitated at Christmas, Good Friday or Easter and start preaching. When I think of the baby in the manger, I already see the Stigmata on the little arms, which the man of the cross Jesus has 30 years later on his handpalms or wrists. Then I don’t expect only the birth of a child, but I remember that Christ as the Risen is past, presence and future.

Just now in the time of Advent it seems to me as if Christ came up to us with open arms. It is strange. It seems to me as if I looked in a mirror, when I see Jesus coming up to me. As if in the future the image of the crucified melted into my own human being. As if a vision came to me, which God has of my own life as human. Yes, and that’s what makes me look for words every year. That I am as I am and God comes to me as human.

The vain weatherman in the movie “Groundhog Day” must stay as long in the endless loop of his always returning nightmare, not until his fellow men change, but until he changes himself. And so it seems to me to be with the annual ritual of Christmas: We must remain as long in the ritual endless loop, until we look away from our selves and realize God in our next. That’s also called love.