Christmas reveals the Creator’s will for this world
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it… 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(From the Gospel according to John, the 1st chapter – NIV])
With apologies to mistletoe and holly, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and presents under the tree, the warm and fuzzy “holiday feeling” that we associate with Christmas is not of God. While it may be well and good to “have yourself a merry little Christmas” and seek to “make the yuletide gay” for self and others, this is miles away from the authentic gift that defines Christmas.
The true definition of Christmas is revealed as Saint John takes us back to the very beginning chapter of the greatest love story ever told. There we have it as only the author of the 4th gospel could tell it. It is the rhapsodic, earth-shattering good news story of God’s incarnation intervention into creation history. John shines a light into the darkness of the abyss of sin to reveal that extravagant, bodacious act/gift of God.
Seen in the Big Picture of things, Christmas is that cosmic “Big Bang” event in which the transcendent becomes immanent, the incomprehensible becomes incarnate, or in other words, the Word (logos) becomes flesh to dwell among us. The Deity, that God-a-way-out- there, breaks the bonds of time and space and does the unimaginable by taking on flesh and blood. The omnipotent one takes the form of a powerless baby who in John’s story is wrapped not in swaddling cloths, but in the fullness of Grace and Truth.
Donned in that Christmas presence of “gay (joyful) apparel,” humanity and all creation will be clothed in righteousness and reconciled with its Creator by the conclusion of John’s tale of Grace and Truth embodied in the incarnate Word that now lives among us. This is nothing less than the Kingdom (reign) of God breaking into a world that is “too much with us” as Wordsworth penned.
The coming of the Messiah, Emmanuel, Christ Jesus into the world is the revelation of God’s will for all Creation. When we pray the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, asking for God’s Kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on Earth as in Heaven, we discover what God’s will is by observing the life lived by the babe born in an earthy stable.
That will which is the Deity’s purpose for all creation is beautifully and powerfully revealed in the dichotomy of words from Rev. Jill Duffield, editor of the Presbyterian OUTLOOK magazine. God’s will, she says, is and is not: “one of reconciliation and not estrangement, peace and not violence, mercy and not cruelty, forgiveness and not shame, grace and not punishment, love and not fear, tenderness and not terror, service and not power, generosity and not hording, welcome and not banishment, abundant life and not certain death, goodness and not evil, justice and not exploitation, liberation and not captivity, beauty and not blight, hope and not despair, community and not isolation, joy and an end to all that causes inconsolable weeping.” Having laid out a vision of the Kingdom (reign) of God as opposed to the kingdoms of this world, she concludes with an affirmation and question. “We know this, without question, with the Incarnation. What, then, will we do to create, to participate, to emulate the reign of God in this present moment?”
Once again much of the world has acknowledged and celebrated the presence of the enfleshed Word among us full of Grace and Truth. What will the Church, the living body of Christ on earth, do here and now to embrace that Grace and uphold that Truth in a world order that remains on a course hell-bent toward destruction? What will be our resolve as the Church of the incarnate Word is about to enter a new decade that must better emulate the will/reign of God if life as humanity has known it is to survive and thrive?
Pray that God’s Kingdom come and God’s will be done on planet Earth, and then resolve to be a part of the answer to that prayer. May it be so.