My brother, Tim, who is a Buddhist, recently asked the question, “If you don’t believe in cause and effect, then what do you believe in? What is the alternative?” He followed up his question with this explanation, ” It’s actually a Buddhist question. Maybe I should just ask a monk. The abbot was saying in the last dharma talk that the first thing you need to do (in context) is to believe in cause and effect. And I was wondering what else there was.”
Why am I posting this here, on a Christian blog, for a Christian church? Because it is not just a Buddhist question. It is a question we should all be considering each time we open our mouths, or move our hands. It is a question about our spirit and soul. It is a question that can be encompassed within a one word answer – thanks.
How many of you gave thanks this Thanksgiving? What did you give thanks for? That new car, the roof over your head, the new clothes, not having to drive to work. With today’s economy at an utter failing point how many people were giving thanks for having one meal in their stomach, heat, shelter of any nature? Thousands. Cause and effect.
How many of you were grocery shopping the day before Thanksgiving for all those last minute items you forgot for your spread of food? In your rush to take care of your needs did you ever stop to look at those shopping around you? That one person, pushing a tiny cart, looking a little laden in the face, picking up a small item here and there. Evaluating their purchase closely and carefully. Hesitantly putting the item back and walking sheepishly to the checkout lane. Cause and Effect.
Can you help? Yes.
Should you help? If it won’t burden you?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the story of Christmas the last few days, as we’ve begun our annual decorating. And really how much of that story involves giving thanks, cause and effect?
The beginning of the story of Christmas as presented by http://www.dltk-bible.com/kjv/luke_chapter_1.htm
Luke: Chapter 1:26-45 & 2:1-12
Matthew: Chapter 1:18-24
King James Version
 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
To learn the answers, as I would present them from my own perspective, keep tuned to this blog as the story of Christmas unfolds. Questions are asked. And a family is brought ever closer together.