My title is quoted from an operetta by Gian-Carlo Menotti, called Amahl and the Night Visitors. In the climactic aria of the piece, the wise man King Kaspar says this:
The child we seek doesn’t need our gold. On love, on love alone he will build his kingdome. His pierced hand will hold no sceptre. His haloed head will wear no crown. His might will not be built on your toil. Swifter than lightning he will soon walk among us. He will bring us new life and receive our death, and the keys to his city belong to the poor.
I have thought a lot about this over the years. Jesus said that our primary duty, the Law that is most important of all, is to love. Jesus tells us to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I believe that the people who live in this love, doing our best to trust in the love of God and not to fear him, constitute the true Body of Christ that is called the Church.
People who stand on the sidelines and try to dictate behavior are not loving. They are fearful. Preachers have told them that unless they adhere to a pack of laws that in large part are invented or cherry-picked out of the huge content of the Old Testament, they are doomed to eternal torture. But that cannot be true.
Think of the compassion that you have for afflicted people and suffering animals. Can we say with any credibility at all that God’s love and compassion are less than those of a human being? It is psychologically impossible to love a God who is poised to slam you into Hell the minute you leave this earthly life. The great Christian hero, Bishop Carlton Pearson, was persecuted and driven from his ministry just because he ceased to believe the idea that anyone who did not grow up in his tradition was eternally doomed. But he stood up to the criticism and brought out his new vision of a God of inclusion that no one need fear.
No one can prove that a God of any kind exists, but we can agree on what we consent to worship. These are the attributes of God that I insist on because unless they are correct, then no one can worship a monster God in spirit and in truth–
1. God never does anything but good.
2. God never interferes with human freedom.
3. God does not incur “collateral damage” or unforeseen consequences.
4. God does not interfere with the normal processes of nature.
5. God does not have to correct his work, i. e., create the human race and then go back and destroy it.
6. God’s nature is pure, just, unconditional love.
When we contemplate that a God with the nature of pure, unconditional love revealed himself to the consciousness of the man we call Jesus, we can wonder what it is all about. Do we need this in our lives? Well, surely we can live without it. That is obvious by observing the comfortable lives of good people who do not practice any religion in particular. But when we realize that Jesus definitely believed that we have actually underestimated the wonder of God’s love, we can look at the Christmas story and begin to see the universe and our lives as works of authentic love and give thanks for this gift, a gift that no earthly possession can do more than symbolize.