It is Christmas Eve. Tonight we remember a central pillar of our faith: that of God’s incarnation. It is a story of terror and amazement. It is a story that has shocked generations. But it is also a story that brings together heaven and earth, and is a time of hope and joy for Christians. The readings leading up to the 12 Days of Christmas are always full of such hope and joy.
Isaiah 35 is a good example. The barren wilderness of Israel’s wanderings burst forth in a desert bloom. The eyes of the blind are opened, the deaf hear, the lame leap, and the burning sand gives way to pools of water. It is a time of hope and redemption – the restoration of the people of Zion.
Revelation, which has had some strange chapters, culminates in the blessing of Almighty God, and the declaration that Jesus is the “root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Here, anyone who wishes to take from the water of life is welcome to it. It is the final painting of a picture of true peace, resting in the One who made all things.
Another passage abundant in blessing and extreme hope is the prophecy of Zechariah. “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a might savior for us in the house of his servant David.”
In the midst of the often craziness of this season, we are asked to take pause, and reflect on the extreme and extraordinary stories of God’s grace. Some of them come to us as grandiose visions of the world redeemed. Others come to us as tiny visions – of infants in a manger.
At its most basic level, the Christmas story is shocking. Think about it: God came to us in the form of a fragile little infant, wetting his pants, dependent on his 13-year old unwed mother for nourishment and care. God could have come as a mighty king, or from a chariot of fire from heaven, or at least from a royal family of husband and wife. But he didn’t. God surprises us by turning the notion of a mighty Savior on its head. His life, his ministry, his death all reflect that, welcoming those whom others had thought God had cast out, redefining family, and forgiving sins.
So don’t let the meekness and mildness of Christmas fool you! In that tiny manger is another grand vision of God’s love. It is a vision that includes the whole world. It is a vision of radical love – unexpected and unbridled. In that manger holds the hope of the future, the Prince of Peace, and the joy of the whole world, intended for ALL.
A Merry Christmas to all of you!