Christmas

For thirty days or so, the anticipation has been building.  For many, the high point – the pinnacle of the Christmas season was last night; angel choirs, frantic shepherds, and peaceful baby and his quiet, contented parents – “that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown…”  except that it’s not.  Christmas is not one moment, frozen in time, with glittering haloes and reverent farmers, and quiet, contented families gathered together in peaceful perfection.

And Mary gets it.

Mary gets it months in advance – not long after she learns she is pregnant – and the angel tells her something special is coming – and her cousin Elizabeth honours her with a blessing.  Mary speaks with the voice of the prophets and tells us what it is like when God intervenes.

God’s intervention is a fact of life.  There are signs for those who choose to look, and for those with eyes to see.  Mary’s song is both a history lesson and a promise of things to come.  The “magnificat” is A POWERFUL STATEMENT OF FAITH, and we would be wise to listen.

Christmas for us has become the vehicle that delivers this message of God’s radical involvement – a message that gets easily lost in the noise leading up to the 25th of December.  Since the preparations began, there have been terror attacks, war crimes, natural disasters and personal tragedies – it is hard to hear the song of peace through all that noise.  It is hard to remember the promise that Mary claims when the lights go dark and the tree is dragged to the curb, but the promise is not so fleeting as our celebrations.  Jesus birth story helps explain the lasting impact of Jesus life – his words and actions are consistent with his mother’s prophetic song.  Jesus grew to be a friend of the lowly and oppressed – he keeps company with the lowly and challenges the powerful – and his embodiment of these ancient promises will cost him his life.

And that is what Christmas is all about – this is the festival of faith that reminds us that the love revealed at easter can be seen and felt and experienced in every stage of life.  In the new life of an infant; in the world-weary face of a worried parent; in the middle of an ordinary night, this birth story reminds us of God’s extraordinary promise of renewal and redemption.  It is an ongoing project, to be sure – and one that needs our constant attention – not because we control the outcome, but because the grace that God offers in Jesus will continue to take the shape of our deepest need.

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