Christmas, and the Angels sing, the shepherds come in wonder, the world seems to pause, just for a moment as the ultimate gift of God comes among us.
Christmas, and the Incarnate Word, the power of creation, is born a baby in Bethlehem.
Christmas, and family and friends gather to celebrate the gift of love
Christmas, and the world has wars and famines and the rich oppress the poor and the at times all seems bleak and lost.
Christmas, and we celebrate the coming of the Son of God, the coming of the Light into the dark world. If at times it seems as dark to us today as it was then, we know that there is still work to be done, and we are promised that God is with us in that work.
Christmas, and we give gifts just as we were given the ultimate gift – the gift of Jesus.
The Church celebrates the gift of the coming of the Son of God every year with joyous hymns, with special services, with decorations and gifts and candles. We hear again the message of the Angels, we ponder again the great mystery of the Word made flesh, and we pray that there may indeed be peace on earth and goodwill to all people. The Hallmark cards and movies show us pictures of quiet and sweet and perfect peace. But the world is not that way, and it was not that way the first Christmas
That first Christmas the Incarnate God came into a world in a country occupied by a foreign army. That first Christmas the rulers of that land would react out of fear, they would try to find and kill the baby, seeing him as a threat to their rule. It was into this world that Christ would come, this world that God loves so much God refused to be separated from us; this world and this people that God says are of infinite worth.
And it is with this world and with these people that we believe God is pleased to dwell.
I am struck by the fact that God is not only please do dwell with us, in this world, but that God was willing to be born, to be a baby, a child who would need to grow and learn and come into adulthood in the same way as everyone human. God was willing, in fact God choose, to become vulnerable, dependent, and needy.
Humans usually want to deny that we are vulnerable, dependent, and needy. And yet it is a simple fact all human beings have needs. To deny our need is to deny we are human. God was willing to accept that neediness. We of course want to think we are strong and independent and don’t need anything. Which of course is absurd, simple reflection reminds us that we need food and water in order to live. Clothing and shelter is nice as well, especially this time of year. These needs however don’t get at what we really need – humans need love. We need God. We have, as St. Augustine said, a God shaped hole in our hearts and our hearts are restless until they rest in God. We need God.
Many people deny they need God. Many people don’t even know they need God. But all of us do. And since so many people have hearts that are restless and do not know where to look, people buy more and more, look for the prefect possession, constantly seek the next new thing or the prefect adventure or thrill, hoping that this time the need in their heart will be filled.
Only God can fill that need. And God desires to fill that need. God desires it so much that God came into a world with desperate need and said “I am right here with you.”
Christmas, and God says “here I am, right here, come and see me, come and be with me, for I will never leave you.”
When you are feeling the hole in your heart look to the only one who can fill it – look to Jesus.
When you are feeling alone know that God is always with you.
When you wonder if you are loved know that God loves you with infinite love.
When the world seems dark hold onto the light of Christmas.
When the world seems dark, carry the light of Christ into the world.
When the world seems dark, be the light of Christ.
Jesus was born into a world of darkness and pain over 2000 years ago, and the light shown bright into that darkness. Christ calls us to be his hands and feet in the world today.
Too many people believe that they are unloved – let us be the love of Christ in the world
Too many people believe that power of force always win – let us show the power of love to the world.
Too many people accept that the idea that separation is normal, let us be sisters and brothers and witness that we were made for communion and community.
The Angels sing, the shepherds come in wonder and the star shines bright. The world so desperately needs to hear this story. Share the story. Share the wonder, share the love. For this is Christmas, and we are Christians, and this is our story, our wonder, our love.