“After the earthquake came a fire — but Yahweh was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”1 Kings 19: 12
God comes gently. The prophet Elijah experienced this. You can read his experience in the first book of kings, chapter 19. God came to Elijah and had him stand on a mountain and promised that he would witness God’s very self. As Elijah stood there, a fierce wind arose, it was so fierce that it crushed the rocks on the mountain. The wind was followed by an earthquake, and after the earthquake, there was a terrible fire – but God was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Only after these things there came a tiny whispering sound – and God was there. God enters our world gently.
God saves us by becoming a baby and becoming forever God with us. God comes into our world in ways that go against things as they are. While we humans look for strong and powerful people to save us and believe too often that only violence can bring peace, God is creating a whole new system for our world. God is creating a peace that the world cannot understand. Jesus came to planet earth to show us that our world systems are wrong, and to show us another and better political system – God’s system.
Once you are standing within the kingdom of God, you can realize how absurd it is to believe that violence can bring peace. The ways of our world are foolishness to God, and when we stand with God and consider our world, we can see how foolish humanity can be.
Mary was God’s gateway into our world, for she opened her heart to the Holy Spirit, and receiving the seed of God’s Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, mercy – she offered her own flesh to form flesh for God. Mary gave physical nourishment to the life of God within her, until that life was born into our world. She and Joseph protected and loved this child into adulthood. God entered our world through Mary and lived in quiet anonymity for years among us. God was with us, and we did not know.
That is sort of symbolic, because God has always been with us, revealing God’s self from the beginning of Creation using the stuff of Creation. All of creation is an expression of God, and God is in a conversation with us through creation. God also conversed with us through prophets, wise people, pre-Christian religions, and through signs, miracles, and sacred writings. But humanity failed to listen or got the messages wrong. From the beginning Christ was with God and was God. This Christ we celebrate as Jesus did not start existing at Christmas but existed from all eternity. It is Christ who was intimately involved with Creation.
Finally, through Mary, God became flesh, became Jesus. This is an essential element of our faith – that this Jesus is both God and human. We call this mystery – for we do not really understand it — the incarnation. The incarnation is the revelation of God. Jesus shows us what God is like and shows us what we humans can be like. After all, we are created in the image and likeness of God, so who better to show us what that looks like than Jesus.
At Christmas we celebrate this wondrous gift of God’s very self and discover that God so loved us as to become one of us. The main message of Christmas is that God loves us, and God loves Creation. God yearns to touch creation through us.
We learn from Christ Jesus to become like God – compassionate, loving, gentle, kind, generous, and forgiving. What God wants is for us to follow the light we are given through Christ, and to continue his ministry of love. Each of us can be light for our world and stand with Christ in the kingdom of God on earth. We can act as citizens of God’s kingdom by doing what we can to create communities of justice, peace, and love. We are celebrating an amazing birthday, the birthday of God in the flesh of a baby named Jesus. We also celebrate the beginning of a new era for humanity. When Christ was born into our world, the world began to change.
My beloved ones, may we always stand with God in God’s kingdom and spread this kingdom little by little until it covers the whole earth.
For my Christmas Eve message, go HERE.