You’ve got to be kidding. Do you really mean to tell me that the author of the Big Bang, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Messiah, the Promised One is that helpless new born crying out there in the stable? Give me a break. Well, as it turns out, that’s exactly why the baby Jesus is in the manger… to give us the biggest break that ever was. It’s Yaweh, Almighty God, in a pint-sized package come to change the whole trajectory of human experience. That little bundle, a few minutes old, is here to teach and to preach, to sanctify and ultimately to redeem us all. He is our ticket to eternal life.
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have life everlasting.(John 3:16) That’s the miracle of Christmas. That’s what all the carols and the crèches are about. It’s a stunning concept, but one that we have heard so often that we are in danger of becoming oblivious to the awesome reality that is Christmas. Let’s take another look at the miracle of Christmas and what it means in our lives today.
First let’s get some basic concepts straight. God is not some remote force who lit the fuse on the Big Bang, got the machinery in motion and is waiting around for inertia to bring the whole thing crashing down. God cares more about you at this moment than he does for all the stars in the universe. They are just masses of energy and matter. You are his beloved… made in his image and likeness. You are the reason there is a Christmas… the moment God’s love emerged in human form for our redemption.
From beginning to end that is the theme of John’s gospel… the divinity of Christ… the personification of God’s love… the vehicle of our salvation. The babe in the manger will not grow up to be a well-meaning prophet or a martyred folk-hero. He was, is and always will be… God, the Second Person of the Trinity. He is the Son of the Father. But being Second and being the Son does not imply that Jesus is a junior varsity version of God.
We are made in God’s image. He is not made in ours. God uses human concepts, expressed in human language, to give us a basic comprehension of what to us is his incomprehensible divine nature. In God’s good time, each of us will stand before him possessing greater knowledge than the wisest theologian and the most inspired evangelist ever had. We will see the face of God. Short of that, we rely on John’s brilliant summation: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
That means that the infant in the manger was, is, and always will be the Word of God. Jesus is the living manifestation of God’s love: made flesh and dwelt among us. Think about it. Christmas is a miracle as big as Creation. Yet it is enacted on a human scale and in humble circumstances for our instruction… an instruction that is repeated over and over in all four gospels.
The Nativity is Christ’s very first sermon to us. And while he never says a word, it is perfectly in tune with every other sermon he preached… Blessed are the poor in spirit… Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… Store up for yourself treasures in heaven…The first shall be last and the last shall be first.
The Nativity brings God’s love into our lives in a shape and form that Christians have embraced down through the ages. God, who made it all, who has it all, gave his all… to us, in total loving humility. The power that placed every star in the heavens, placed his love in the manger in the form of Jesus Christ. Suddenly, God is not a distant being. He is Emmanuel… God with us… beside us and in us. God on earth… teaching us how to love… how to hope… how to believe. Showing us how to live… how to die… how to rise with him.
On Christmas and every day of the year, Jesus brings God down to us and us up to God. That’s the miracle of Christmas. From the straw strewn floor of the stable to the farthest reaches of space… all creation cries Gloria in Excelsis Deo!
Fr. David Sellery
God love you,
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