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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas - back to Basics

Christmas Day- Back to Basics

December 25th is the day the Christian churches celebrate the birth of Jesus son of Mary and Joseph, a Jewish couple in what is now Israel. The Biblical events of Jesus’ birth were not written down until at least thirty years after the death of Jesus. References to Jesus as Messiah, as Christ as son of God were added to the story.

of his birth to show the importance of this child and man in the eyes of the church as it grew from being a Jewish sect to a world religion. The Christmas music and stories so beloved and popular were all written well after the events of Jesus’ actual birth. The church was trying to figure out who this man Jesus was.

The gospel stories tell the events of this Jewish prophet’s life. He preached with knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, he healed the sick, called for peace, and for help for the poor and oppressed. He expected the end of history to come in his lifetime. He called this the coming of the kingdom of God when all would be peaceable and perfect. Early Christian leaders began to ascribe to him characteristics like Messiah and Son of God, which come from the Hebrew Scriptures.

For the next four hundred years after his death the church tried to define who he was with controversies, debates and creeds written to shape the basic Christian beliefs. Then the worst thing happened. Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire. The simple and basic teaching of the Jewish man Jesus became subservient to the state. Hierarchies and even worship became elaborate and took on the clothing of royalty, which exists in many churches today.

The message of Jesus the humble Jewish teacher, healer and prophet became totally corrupted. It was no longer about love, forgiveness and healing. It morphed into power, money and fame. However, great painting, sculpture, learning, architecture, language and music did emerge from the wealth and power of the church. Great acts of love and mercy came with the Franciscans and others, found hospitals and orphanages.

The church quickly broke up into denominations, sub-groups, cults and national allegiances. The Irish, English, Poles, Germans, Russians all have their own forms of Christian expression. Many of the changes in the church came about because the church was aligned with some political power. Russian Orthodoxy was at the mercy of the government. The Holy Roman Empire was the church and state as one.

It was not until the founding of the U.S government that separation of church and state became a reality that the simple message of the man Jesus has a chance to breathe more freely. The future of the Christian Church lies in getting back to the basics of what Jesus the Jewish prophet and teacher stood for – love, healing, care for the poor and oppressed and seeking peace.

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