“And they said, Go to, let us build on a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name…”Genesis 11: 4
What is Christmas about? Let’s look back and think things through. If we look at the first chapter of the book of Genesis, we see that humanity was created in the image and likeness of God. This is our purpose – to be like God in the world. God wants to touch Creation through us. In the beginning all was well and people remembered God and remembered their purpose. But then they took their eyes off God, and as soon as they did this, they forgot what God is like, and then they also forgot who they are to God. They began to hide from God because they became afraid of God. The whole rest of the bible up to the Christian scriptures can be thought of as God pursuing people down through the ages, trying to get them to turn around and come back to God; to come back to our original blessing, to the reason we were created in the first place.
One of the key turning points in the world’s downfall into darkness is symbolized in the story of the Tower of Babel. Scripture says that men decided to make a name for themselves and build a city and a great tower. What this means is that certain men wanted power and prestige. Specifically, they wanted power over others. It’s like this. One bully persuades a few people to join him, and then they begin to bully and persuade others to join them, and the first bully climbs on top in the sense that he has power over everyone under him. He usually controls others through fear. The more people he can gather under him, the more power and prestige he has. The people are the tower, and the higher your tower, the greater your name. Since more than one person started to do this, the next thing you know we had wars and people became alienated and divided from each other because of the people on top. Those at the top were often the same ones who would tell people what God is like, and the next thing you know there are many different images of God, and some of these images were terrible. But usually they had this one thing in common. That God was on the side of the guy on top, who was there by divine right. In Rome the ruler went so far as to tell the people that in fact he was a God. The most common image of God was as a warrior God who would fight on the side of His people – if they obeyed and fed him sacrifices. Many people were exploited and oppressed by those above them, and made to fear not only their rulers, but God, too.
Jesus came during the reign of Caesar, in a country that had been conquered and was suffering oppression. He came to save us from this bondage to darkness and fear, and to free us from all the wrong images of God. Jesus came not just to tell us what God is like, but to show us. Who is the savior of the world? …this baby in the manger. You could not imagine a person more opposite to the ruler standing at the top of his tower. You see, it is the incarnation of God as this baby that saves and transforms the world forever. God saves us by being born as a baby and becoming forever God with us. God has mingled divinity with humanity, and the two are forever joined through Christ. God is all mixed up with us now.
And so, the angels come proclaiming news of great joy. They come not to the important people living in the cities, but to a group of shepherds. Your savior is born! God comes into our world to remind us of who God is, and who we are in God. We are created in the image and likeness of God. But if we have the wrong image of God, we will certainly have the wrong image of who we are. We must be saved from our false ideas about God and saved from our false ideas about ourselves if the world is to be saved. God wants to undo all the damage that has been caused by people getting everything wrong.
What does Jesus the Christ reveal about God? That God is love. God is compassionate, forgiving and merciful. God, as shown by Jesus repeatedly, cares about those who have been marginalized by society, those who are sick, who are poor, who are homeless; and cares about each sparrow that falls.
God could have come to us as a Superman, a superhero, more powerful than other men. I imagine Jesus would have gotten a lot of attention as a superman. As superman he could have driven the Romans out of his nation and set his people free. The people would have loved him for it. But then, nothing really would change, would it? We would still have the wrong images of God stuck in our heads and wouldn’t know why we were created. By coming as a baby and growing up as an ordinary man Jesus can save not just one nation, but all of Creation.
Jesus does this wonderful, beautiful thing. Christ Jesus invites us to be part of his divinity – to be one with God – and to become the new incarnation of Christ to the world. All of us together are invited to form a new Body for Christ, and as Christ we continue to save our world. We save our world by waking up to who we are in God, and becoming like God – we become compassionate, loving, gentle, kind, generous, and forgiving. We work to overcome injustice and to free people from being oppressed and bulled. We speak out against the evil systems of the world that lead to death, darkness, and fear. Little by little we transform our world. We become once again the image and likeness of God we were created to be in the first place… and when we do, there is peace, love and joy in our world.
My beloved ones, learn the meaning of Christmas and live it every day.