There are few images as precious to me as Christ on the cross, the Creator King of the universe hanging, naked from two rough pieces of wood, crushed like a common criminal…
…Christ on the cross, defeating death by allowing himself to die while forgiving and loving even people like me that would do such a thing.
The mercy and grace and indeed justice for all people in that image defies comprehension. But there is another image equally precious to me.
It manifests when I realize in order for Christ to offer his perfect humanity on my behalf on the Cross, he had to live as a human.
He had to be born as a human.
So, the picture of baby Jesus, cradled in his mother’s arms, is indeed precious, its humility no less scandalous in our contemporary world—and perhaps more so—than the cross itself.
At the cross we are ever reminded that God would not, could not, does not die for something he does not love.
As we turn our attention this night to the baby in Mary’s arms we are rightly overwhelmed at the accompanying thought that God would not, could not, and does not live as something he does not love.
There, in a naked, nursing baby, we glimpse something of the deepest goodness of God.
This Christmas is so different, and even perhaps disappointing, when held up to what we wanted.
The first Christmas was no doubt the same.
No one wants to deliver a baby in the midst of foreign occupation, while obeying an inconvenient executive order, in the cold, among manure and far away from family.
Nevertheless the light of that night has never been extinguished, and it gives light to the world still, and the darkness of the pandemic, of isolation, of unmet expectations, and unspoken hurts, and years of selfish and self destructive mistakes cannot overcome it. The light of Christmas is God becoming one of us because he loves all of us.
The light of Christmas is the fullness of God entering the human family, and in so doing welcoming the fullness of humanity into the divine family.
The light of Christmas is God taking on, not human illusions of progress, power, and prestige, but the real substance of humanity itself, womb to tomb, in all its frailty and vulnerability and smallness.
The light of Christmas is Jesus Christ, God from God, living unrelenting love for every human, by becoming a human destined to die, so that his divine love would swallow death forever!
He was raised, vindicated and Resurrected, by the Spirit of love. He now gives us that same Spirit, his Spirit, God from God come again to dwell in and among his people now!
The light of Christmas is nothing less than true fellowship with God. This is something we can know and live and receive in and through and because of Jesus Christ and no one else!
This Light and Love that has come to us in, through, and by Christ, transfigures us finally into the very image of Christ, and imparts to us immortality and eternity.
It is the only gift we truly need.
And the good news is that it is ours!
Christ has come.
Christ is here.
Christ will come again!