“The people walking in darkness are seeing a brilliant light, upon those who dwell in a land of shadows, light is shining.”Isaiah 9: 2
In Advent we Christians began a new Church year. Throughout our liturgical year hear the good news about God, about Christ Jesus, and about who we are in Christ. Advent we learned about waiting with assurance that the kingdom of God is coming. Today on this Christmas Eve we celebrate the breaking in of God’s kingdom, and we celebrate that now the kingdom of God is in our midst.
On Christmas we renew our wonder and awe at the nearness of God. How can it be that this God of Galaxies and Universes chose to become a human being, becoming in all ways just like us? We use a big word, Incarnation, as if this describes the event, as if we know what it means. Somehow, in some mysterious way, the Word and Wisdom of God put on flesh gradually, over 9 long months, and then was born as one of us. And they named this baby, Jesus. He was born in an occupied country, to a people oppressed and downtrodden, to a couple of nobodies from a town called Nazareth. They had travelled to Bethlehem because the rulers of their country insisted on it. It turns out that God comes to places that hurt the most and have the most need.
Christmas tells us about a God who resorts to an utterly unexpected plan to cure us of our darkness and fears. God comes to us by human birth in a barn. Who is the Savior of the world? This baby in the manger. We are celebrating one of the essential elements of our faith – we affirm that this Jesus, this baby, is both God and human. Once we affirm this strange new belief, everything in the world changes. This belief sets Christianity apart from every other religion. In fact, especially in the early centuries, this belief was scandalous to those who believe that God is transcendent, above everything that is human, and is totally other.
But it is the incarnation of God as this baby that saves and transforms the world. God has mingled divinity with humanity, and the two are forever joined through Christ. God is all mixed up with us, and we are all mixed up with God.
Today we celebrate God’s gentle arrival on planet earth. A God who wants us to know what God is like, wants us to know that God is on our side, and who wants us to know what God is doing, and the only way to do this was to come in person. Jesus reveals God to us, and at the same time, reveals back to us what we can be like as human persons. As ancient words proclaimed, “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, we were saved.”
We need the light today. We are a people walking in darkness. But, in our darkness the good news comes to us again, just as it did to the shepherds watching their sheep – “Do not be afraid.” Like the shepherds, we can hurry to the light, toward Christ Jesus, and leave our fear behind us. Christ is the light that shines in the darkness, and no matter how the world tries to snuff it out, this light can never be extinguished.
The good news of Christmas is that now we know what God is like – God is compassionate, caring, loving, forgiving, gentle, patient, and fills us with hope. God sent Jesus to start a movement, a revolution, to change the world. The goal of God is to bring the ways of God to planet earth. At Christmas we renew our sense of wonder at the miracle of God’s nearness to us, and we are encouraged once again to believe that peace and justice are possible; that the world can indeed change through God’s love.
My beloved ones, may the joy and happiness of Christmas be yours today and always.