Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on December 23, 2017
Our daughter was Mary in our church's Christmas Pageant this year. She was an angel last year and the year before; and was anticipating being an angel again! When to our surprise she bounded home to tell us the news she was Mary! I was practically waiting for her shout, “my soul magnifies the Lord!” Lines needed to be memorized and a solo was to be sung. The three of us spent most nights before dinner rehearsing lines and singing Christmas carols for the pageant. Her gleeful enthusiasm got me thinking in some new ways about Christmas.
What is Christmas all about? I am glad you asked. Christmas tells the sudden and miraculous story of God. A God who breaks the silence and enters the world in the flesh. Truly ponder this for a moment? A God who can be held, touched, smelled, loved and kissed and of all the people God could choose to be, God entered the world as a tender little baby.
Luke's gospel, the one that Linus quotes in, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” offers a poetic description of God's love that makes us wrestle with the sudden and the miraculous nature of God. Said another way, Luke's gospel tells us about the “Impossible Possibility” of God.
What I love about Christmas is that it is quite scandalous the world is a newborn baby in a faraway place enter an Earthly powerful City and confront the mighty god's lips into the world in a faraway province far from the eyes and ears of the powerful and proud gardeners the town of Bethlehem is not a Washington, D.C., San Francisco, or Beijing, it’s more of a Barstow or Buttonwillow.
It's a little off the beaten path. If you’ve spent any time in these towns, then you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t, just trust me on this. These are towns where you expect to gas up your car on the way to someplace else, not towns where you would anticipate a Divine arrival.
This is important because the love and gift of God is able to reach the faraway provinces of our lives.
The journey to Bethlehem each Christmas is a pilgrimage toward the deeper nature of God…then, out of the silence and darkness, like Mary and Joseph going about the ordinary business of life, the sudden and miraculous nature of God burst open and the impossible becomes possible.
The journey to Bethlehem is an ancient pilgrimage. The Magi are guided to Bethlehem by great learning; their ability to interpret the movements of planets and stars in the heavens. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem as a family going about the important business of life. The shepherds go to Bethlehem by dramatic revelations from a Heavenly angel.
Not all of us will travel the same road to Bethlehem. Some will travel to Bethlehem out of a life crisis. Others will journey to Bethlehem with grief on their hearts. Some will journey with gratitude and need to offer thanks. Others are lonely and in need of spiritual renewal. Others will travel out of an immediate and wondrous experience woven into the fabric of the ordinary everyday lives.
The Incarnation of God is telling us of the impossible possibility of God's love. Christmas is another way of saying; out of the silence, through darkness, through the waiting and expectation and into the light, God comes to you.
This is profound! God comes to you. Our culture is set up so that those with less power must travel to the person or organization with the most power. Power doesn’t travel to you, you travel to power, but not here, not with God.
Christmas is about responding to Holy visions of a world where peace is possible. Peace between father and son, mother and daughter, brother and sister, neighbor and neighbor, country and country. Responding to visions of a life where healing and a new life shine the light of love into the dark and far away provinces of our lives. A peace that burns bright in the darkness of disease, or distance or death.
Christmas isn't something that happens and you sit silently by the side of the road and watch. Christmas isn't something that can be purchased along the road. Christmas is something you do on your way to Bethlehem. You celebrate Christmas. God entered the darkness of the world's sorrow and brought a new light. It is a light of hope, but also, a light of promise and presence in the world.
On Christmas morning when you open a gift, no matter what it is, socks, tie, Fitbit, electric toothbrush: it has a deeper meaning, the giving and receiving is a symbol of the miraculous and sudden nature of God.
God came into the world to shine a bright light into the dark and far away provinces of our lives. That's what Christmas is all about. Have a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season!
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