I have been quiet since Thanksgiving. My thoughts have been on Christmas. For a while there, it appeared to be too early to talk about Christmas. I know that as an Anglican clergy that the season of Advent precedes Christmas. However, everywhere around us, there are lights and decorations. The music everywhere sings of the joys of the season. It is impossible to pretend that Christmas is not here yet. Personally, I don’t want to wait. I love Christmas. It’s the most wonderful…..no, I won’t succumb to that. However, it doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed an amazing time of the year. People are thinking about others for a change. They are shopping for others. They even consider giving gifts to people that they don’t normally think about. Perhaps they are influenced by sentimentalism and commercialization. Nevertheless, there is something that occurs deep within the souls of the people which inspires charitable attitudes. People tend to be more generous. Money doesn’t seem to be a concern. People are giving money to our children and teens in the streets. They, on other hand, are more reflective. This year, in particular, they seem to be open with us about their sentiments about Christmas. One even suggested that we do secret Santa with them. It is not going to happen because it would take planning and organization. These two things are not in the general vocabulary of our children and teens. However, the invitation itself is special. They want us to be part of their Christmas celebration. Every year, for a short period, we are given an opportunity to stop and reflect on something wonderful that happened to humanity. It disrupts our hustle and bustle of daily strife and makes us reflect. Some, perhaps, only reflect for a very brief moment. Others take a step closer to discover the Truth presented to us in the Person of Jesus. This is the best we can do really. Each season, we take a step closer in understanding the mystery of the God who became Man.
The first Christmas disrupted our cycle of life, work and death. Eternity entered into the conversation of life. The peaceful night of the shepherds were disturbed by an angelic choir pronouncing a new beginning. Noble wisemen were forced to go into places reserved for lowly servants and bow their knees on the soiled floor of a stable. The peaceful daily routine of life was disrupted because the Eternal One came into our reality. Interestingly, none of the first celebrants of Christmas questioned the inappropriateness of the birthplace. They were not scandalized that the Hope of the world could not even afford a nice room. The first Christmas was an invitation to reflect beyond the limitation of our reality. All the material wealth of this world failed to give the King of Kings a decent room. It failed to honor the One who deserves the utmost. However, this did not stop the Eternal One from transforming this humble abode into a glorious temple of hope.Today we complain about commercialization and trivialization of Christmas. We forget that all this cannot destroy its meaning. We don’t give the season its worth. It is our Eternal King that makes this time special. He presents Himself in the most unlikely places. The joy of Christmas is not a mere celebration of an event that took place in Bethlehem but, as the beautiful hymn* proclaims, it is an event that continuously occurs in those who would listen to the gentle beckoning of this humble child. Christ enters into our humble reality.
“How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.”
Jesus came into this world to call us to stop and turn our eyes to Him. He brings a new dimension into our souls. He presents the Eternity to our limited world of time and space. It changes everything. It gives us hope to overcome the pain and suffering that our reality brings upon us. It reminds us that there is more to life than just what is presented here. It may sound like a “pie in the sky” theology. Well, it sounds like it because it is exactly this that is being presented in the coming of the King. He brought an eternal pie but it is not in the sky. It is here and now in the person of Jesus. He came to dwell among us and He is still present among us. It is easy to forget this Truth. We spend most of our time thinking about Jesus and sometimes defending doctrines about Him. However, Christmas makes us go beyond the “about Him”. It challenges us to meet Him who is eternally present in our time and space. We are taken away from our busy schedules and transported to a moment where all time-tables and datelines become irrelevant. We reminded that there is an eternal reality. This is the universal appeal of the season. God introduces His reality into this temporal world through Jesus. We don’t make Christmas special. Therefore, nothing we can do can jeopardize and banalize it. It belongs to God. It is His gift to us. However, those who are too busy might just miss it. Sometimes the most unlikely people might appreciate it.
Just like the first Christmas, we cannot choose the place and time where the Eternal One presents Himself to us. We go to the streets everyday trying to discern His presence. Some days are easier than others. Our minds are not always aware of His presence. It is easy for us to be distracted. Some days, when we least expect it, the Eternal One appears to us in the most unlikely places. It is moments like these that give a glimpse of what the first Christmas was like. God came into our reality in an unexpected way. He came and opened our eyes to see the joy of living and filled our hearts with peace that the world cannot comprehend. These moments are a glimpse of the eternal reality that dwells among us. We hope in the coming days to share some brief encounters with the Eternal One with you in our posts. Perhaps in some small way, we can contribute to your reflection on this special time of the year.