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The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
My Dear Friends,
Whether we feel prepared or not, Christmas is here again and we are beckoned to journey to Bethlehem one more time expecting the Christ child to make a difference in our world. The harsh realities of violence and terror in our communities, the erosion of our personal resources and the painful grief of many this season make that hope seem far-fetched. But it is precisely for these persons and situations that Christmas finds its meaning. God chose to come into the world of humanity as a homeless child of an unwed mother. This idea of God becoming a human being (the incarnation), is about reading history from the standpoint of the God who discloses Himself within the diversity of our historical, social and cultural experience. This is not the world as it ought to be, but as it is - the world with all its wonders and terrors. Not the world where all's right, but the world in all its questionableness, with all its misery and all its pain. That's the world you and I know but sometimes wish to deny. The truth of the Christmas story is that God affirms us in this same world which we pretend does not exist.
Some time ago an evangelist from the US was heavily criticized in the media for saying God had bypassed Jamaica. His interpretation was that Jamaica was so evil that God was no longer present. One can never come to that conclusion if we read history from the stand point of the God who became incarnate. The God we worship and obey, is a God who transforms reality by embracing it.
Dorothy Sayers has a Christmas play A man Born to be King in which the following question was put to Mary: "Shall sorrow and Love be reconciled at last, when the promised Kingdom comes?" To which Mary responds: "These are difficult questions-but with me, you see, it is like this. When the Angel's message came to me, the Lord put a song into my heart. I suddenly saw that wealth and cleverness were nothing to God, since no one is too unimportant to be His friend. That was the thought that came to me, because of the thing that happened to me. I am quite humbly born, yet the power of God came upon me; very foolish and unlearned, yet the Word of God was spoken to me; and I was in deep distress, then my Baby was born and filled my life with love. So I know very well that Wisdom and Power and Sorrow can live together with Love; and for me, the Child in my arms is the answer to all the riddles".
Mary knew as do many Christians that the world doesn't have to be tidy and neat for Jesus to enter. The incarnation is an example of what we may call patient fidelity in order to transform broken lives and relationships into a future filled with hope. Without fidelity to the image of God incarnate in each one of us, there can be no hope of transforming our personal and collective lives.
Verna Dozier in her book The Dream of God says the question we must ask of each other is not "What do you believe? But what difference does it make that you believe? Does the world come nearer to God's dream for the world because of what you believe about the Child of Bethlehem? The urgent task before us in the coming year is to reclaim our identity as being created in the image of God and thereby live into our high calling as the baptized community. We are a chosen people, chosen for God's high purposes, that the dream of God for a new creation may be realized. God has paid us a high compliment by becoming one with us so that we may claim our oneness with him. Let us all go home this Christmas and claim it.
Mercy, Peace and Joy be with you and your loved ones this Christmas.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
He was born in an obscure village.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone,
Services for Christmas Day
The Nativity of Our Lord
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Page last updated: January 1, 2005
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