The tree is adorned with ornaments filled with memories of Christmases past and tiny lights shimmer in the cold winter’s night. The house is all dressed up in glitter and glam and boughs and bows festoon every doorway.
Cookies bake in the oven. Christmas cakes rest in a bed of rum and special treats are tucked away in tins awaiting family and other guests who will arrive throughout the holidays. And children’s voices laugh and sing and cry out in anticipation of finding out what Santa left them under the tree.
So this is Christmas.
On city streets, in malls and stores, people scurry about searching for that perfect thing to buy Great Aunt Lucy and brother Dan while clerks vie for shopper’s favour in the hopes that this holiday season cash registers will chime and coffers will be filled with enough coin to last the year.
So this is Christmas.
And in the mad rush to wrap one more gift, tie one more bow, set one more place at the table, there is little time to reflect upon tidings of comfort and joy. There is little space to remember shepherds in their fields that night long ago who kept watch as angels voices raised on high, Rejoice! Rejoice! O’ Israel. To thee shall come Immanuel.
Seventeenth century German mystic Angelus Silesius wrote: ““I must be the Virgin and give birth to God.”
At the heart of Christian theology and tradition is the birth of a child in a manger over 2,000 years ago. It is his birth that gives rise to our Christmas celebrations today. It is his birth that dwells in the tender and delicate flesh of not just those who share the Christian faith but of all humanity. It is a birth that inspires each of us, no matter our faith, to ‘give birth to God’ in every breath, every act, every moment, of our lives.
Over 2,000 years ago a child was born unto Mary and Joseph. And all the world was watching. It was a much less connected world back then. There was no satellite, no Internet, no instant messaging to herald the great tidings.
There was only a husband and his wife finding shelter in a manger. There were only shepherds in a field and three Magi on the road invited to behold the wondrous tidings of the coming of Christ the King of whom angels sang.
And there was Herod. A paranoid King who feared the birth of a child would change his world forever more. And in his fury he fought to protect all that he had and lost sight of all that was possible if he were to let go of fear and surrender unto Love.
For this is the story of Christmas. A story of Love. Of hope and joy and possibility. It is a story that resonates today as it did over 2,000 years ago when to bring forth a child with such promise shook the very foundation of society and unleashed the fury of a king who killed innocents to protect his world and keep it safe.
For this is the story of Christmas. In a time when sorrow and sadness cry out in headline news, when strangers kill one another and innocents fall from bullets flying through city streets, and children die of drug overdoses and armies fight over territories long disputed and bombs fall on sleeping victims and we fear for the safety of those we love in disaster-struck lands and worry about the cost of food and sky-rocketing rents and whether we’ll have a job next year or next week or whether there’s enough food, enough time, enough medicine to heal the ones we love, this is the story of Christmas.
The story of birth. Of promise. Of possibility. A story of Love. Love for one another. Love for oneself. A story of birthing that which we have in limitless capacity, to give, to hold onto, to share, to be every moment of every day. To fill every breath we take.
In these times when sorrow and loss threaten to overcome peace, let us take refuge in the light. Let us breathe hope into our dreams of peace and joy descending upon the world. Let us be courageous. Let us reach out to one another in peace. Let us each be the light for all to see the path to living together in a world of peace, hope, love and joy is through giving birth to God through Love for one another with every breath we take.
No matter your faith, no matter the pew in which you kneel or the God to whom you pray, or the festivities in which you partake, may comfort and joy embrace you and may you be inspired to live illuminated in the light of Love every season of the year.