The Light Shines in the Darkness
Christmas is the season during which the whole church celebrates the theme that is most central to our Christian theology and faith: God’s incarnation: “God is present in us and in the world, working for our healing and growth, our direction and our comfort, our reconciliation and our redemption.” This is the fundamental Christmas message to us in this age as it was to the preceding ages.
Here we are again, the church and the world, celebrating together the joyful festivities associated with this time of the year – the birthday of Baby Jesus. Christmas (Christ-mass) is when the community of faith gathers around the table of the Lord to share in the Great Thanksgiving honoring what God has done for all humanity.
Jesus’ birth is one of the holiest events in the world, and with it comes the awareness that God has come down to dwell with us in human form. Dwelling within us, he is transforming the darkness of this world associated with evil; he is turning sin and brokenness into light and wholeness. God’s insurmountable love is personally inhabiting each of us for goodness and righteousness.
At Christmas we hold true to the faith that genuine hope, and new life, are breathed into our lives so we may start afresh. We are once again called to believe in God who first and foremost believed in us; enough to risk his son Jesus to be born as one of us. Recalling the first Christian family, Joseph, Mary and Jesus – the model of all Christian families, and the host of heavenly presence associated with his birth – the love we see in Jesus’ family is the love that we are called to show and embody to everyone.
God first loved us, sending his Son into the world as the perfect and wholesome gift to all humanity! It is this gift that began the well-known and much advertised tradition of gift giving Christmas is known and celebrated for over the years.
Furthermore, the message of Christmas is one of peace and goodwill to all. We share it with each other in a spirit of love, kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice. The barriers, some visible and others invisible, are shattered, even if temporarily, so the light of the Christ child may shine clearly in the lives of us all.
It is no secret that we face many threats and challenges on a daily basis, enough to cause the best and most resilient to question God’s presence. The Christmas message collapses all those anxieties and fears, transforming them into optimistic and hope-filled expressions of a better tomorrow. Let us summon our resolve to be confident in the power of God to change the world through his Son born in Bethlehem’s stable.
Friends, lest we forget, Jesus was born into a world overwhelmed by fear, corruption, oppression, greed, hatred, malice and political instability. There wasn’t a more inopportune time for a perfect God to indwell this world, but he chose to make it Kairos (fullness of time), to be born, and thus, beginning the tough work of restoring broken relationship with GOD.
Christmas challenges the church to reflect on the imponderable question, why did God choose to enter history as a homeless child? He was born in a manger because his loving parents, although returning to the city of their ancestors where both had roots – relatives or friends we assume could have taken them in, yet the nativity narrative shows otherwise. The answer is that Jesus wanted to demonstrate a virtue needed for salvation—humility.
We remember the homeless in our company, the orphans and widows, we remember the poor all over the world with whom the baby Jesus identifies in solidarity. We remember refugees fully aware that soon after his birth Jesus became a refugee in Egypt, fleeing King Herod’s edict to kill all children less than two years. We remember our dedicated and selfless military families who are spending this Christmas without family members who were killed in combat, and those serving in combat and non-combat zones. Please say a prayer for those who are less fortunate, and wherever possible reach out and lend a helping hand. This is what Jesus would expect of us.
The light of the world is here for all to see, worship and embrace. In the comforting words of the angels to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people: to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord…”.
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our beloved episcopal family in the Diocese of Easton, and all people everywhere.
Peace, joy & love!
+San & Lynn