Divine Hope in the Midst of a Broken World
“They shall name Him Emmanuel” which means, “God is with us”. (St. Matthew 1:23)
The word “Christmas” is a shortened version of the words “Christ-Mass”. It is the great gathering of the faithful to celebrate the birth of the Savior and Messiah of the world. As we commemorate his birthday, I feel obliged to quote one the Church’s most inspired and spiritual Fathers of the fourth century, West African early church Father, Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. In one of his Christmas sermons to the faithful he said, “Beloved, our lord Jesus Christ, the eternal creator of all things, today became our Savior by being born of a mother. Of his own will he was born for us today, in time, so that he could lead us to his Father’s eternity. God became human like us so that we might become God. The Lord of the angels became one of us so that we could eat the bread of angels”. What a beautiful and profound way to sum up the Christmas message.
The center of attraction in the manger, the child Jesus, by coming among us offers God’s healing and love to our broken and hostile world. Believing and receiving him means putting him first, far ahead of the fading glory and shifting hopes offered by this world.
Christmas is the bridging of two realities reminding us that God is not just the God of heaven but Lord and Creator of the universe. Christmas is God’s incarnation, that is, God taking human flesh and becoming one like us. God became human, not just to save the world, but to bless the world, to bless being human, to endorse being human, to join us in our humanness. Jesus invites us to come to him as a child.
When we look around, and see the children in their many Christmas presentations, that excitement and thrill goes a long way in helping to lay aside, even for a moment, the realities of daily struggle. For children, all the experiences of life are new and thrilling adventures. They take them in and take them on willingly and eagerly. Adults will do well to adopt this attitude of childlike innocence at Christmas, and allow the gift of this sacred birth we celebrate a chance to fill us with PEACE! JOY! and LOVE!
Gifts are a major focus on Christmas – the many gifts that we have been buying for one another, the gifts that we have been hoping for and hinting at, but most of all, the great gift of God, the baby born in Bethlehem. Beloved, the birthday of Jesus marks our own birthday since we all share his life in baptism. This accounts for the reason why over the centuries the practice of gift sharing had become so popular. In essence, all of us are celebrating our birthday with Jesus, hence the exchange of gifts.
However, as we do so let us spare some time in our celebration to invite the Christ child of Bethlehem stable, Jesus the Lord and Savior, into our lives. Let us give him the freedom to lead us where he wishes, recommitting ourselves to the guiding principles of love for all, peace, joy and Christian harmony.
Every blessing on this Christmas from your friends!
+San & Lynn