December 25, 2022
I have to admit that I don't really get into the building hustle and bustle before Christmas: decorating, shopping, etc. Advent for me is a time of inner spiritual and emotional preparation and all that activity tends to distract me from myself. Still, it is probably a good thing for me to be distracted from myself, especially during the season of preparation for Christmas. Christmas isn't, or shouldn't be, about me and my preferences.
In our Advent preparations, we've thought about hope, which means we've also thought about despair. We've thought about peace, but we've also thought about John the Baptist preaching judgement and repentance. We've thought about joy and abundance of life and water in the desert, but we've also thought about deserts and misery and suffering. We've thought about love, and maybe with love we've thought about needed reconciliation.
Now it's Christmas; Merry Christmas, by the way. Jesus has come into the world and we finally get to see what the Eternal Logos looks like: he looks like a baby boy loving and inviting us to love him. He looks like a growing boy teaching and worrying his parents. He looks like a grown son baptized with the Holy Spirit. He looks like a man healing and caring for the poor and working to save us all. He looks transfigured into dazzling white, standing with the law and the prophets. He looks like a victorious king riding into town. He looks like a judge, exposing heresy and hypocrisy in all we do. He looks like a convicted criminal put to death by our government yet forgiving us still. He looks like someone comforting us in our grief. He looks like our friend who yet lives and is with us still, even to the end of the age.
He puts a claim on our lives in a way that only a baby can, not so much commanding us to love him, but drawing us into his love. We've been preparing during Advent, but now, looking into that baby's face, wasn't it all a distraction? Doesn't it now seem that all that preparation was a distraction: thinking about our misery and hope, sin and repentance, thinking about scarcity and abundance and drudgery and joy, thinking about broken relationships and the love that we crave? Now Christ, the Savior is born. We can look at his face and feel the love that we could only think about. We can see that we share the image of God. We can see the face of Christ on our sisters and brothers and love them, too.
It is my hope and prayer that your grief is comforted, your misery relieved, your relationships reconciled. It is my hope and prayer that you feel the love of God represented by that baby looking up at you and drawing you into love on this Christmas Day and always.
Love and Christmas blessings,