This is the time of year when we tell the story of a baby born in a manager who, as a man, proclaimed the God among us, within us and beyond us. It is a story that tends to get lost in the hoopla of buying stuff and of decoration.
In a world racked by conflict and stressed by climate change and mass extinction will the Christmas message of hope and transformation be sufficient for our world’s profound need? In a world shaped by materialism is it any wonder that the world is cursed with exploitation and devastating poverty. Our world is the story of distorted meanings and shallow purpose which is at the heart of the ecological and social justice crises surrounding us.
Hawaiians have a word, pono, that to me embodies the meaning of Christmas. To be pono means we must live in harmony with each other and with the world around us. It means we must do the right thing. Pono is about living a righteous life in harmony with all living earth.
We live in a world caught up in confusion and distortions and lies. Many of our leaders promote a world where wealth and power overwhelm love and community, a world where ownership replaces stewardship, a world where shallow religion excuses corruption and greed. Only when we reject this gospel of hate can we hope to live in a pono world. Intervention is necessary.
We must tell the true message of Christmas. God is with us when we understand His creation. The very survival of our grandchildren requires us to live pono in harmony with each other and with the world around us.
The Christmas story is one of great good news when we tell it in the context of overcoming oppression and exploitation, of renew community and establishing pono relationships. But it is up to us to make it happen. It will only happen when we work together to solve local, regional and global problems.
But that Christmas story — that transformational, liberating, joyous story — needs to be explicit. In a world seduced by wealth and power, a world where the “other” is feared or used, where individualism smothers community — in our world, the Christmas story loses meaning if we don’t push the challenging message of our need to live pono.
The Christmas story can be lost in commercialization.
We and the earth are at a cross roads. We can choose to pursue money and power at the expense of others, or we can choose to live pono on a sustainable earth with dignity and respect for all living things. The true Christmas message is one of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to men. Nono pono.