As our year is bundled into the splendour of Christmas celebration, take some time to consider the artistry of God’s imagination.
As we discover ourselves slowly emerging from the rigours of the last few years – not only the strictures of the coronavirus, but the fear of the bushfires and the exhaustion of the drought for so many – look at the wonder not only of God’s promise, but the way in which God proclaims it.
All too easily our diaries keep moving us forward, allowing us barely a moment to ponder what God has done in Jesus’ birth. In Jesus, God has transformed everything, and everyone.
It begins, as always, with God.
In the beginning, God.
This God, who has always intended life, knowing our brokenness and our beauty, declares life and hope in the birth of Jesus.
God breaks into the world on the margins, where none expects anything. Under the dead, dreadful hand of empire, God speaks life through a couple of little consequence, to nameless stock workers and a handful of foreign mages.
Imagine this God who, from the stuff of the stars and the dust of the earth, has shaped us. Imagine this God who called us from the very beginning, by our name, and with love.
Is this not wonderfully amplified in the birth of Jesus?
This is not some comfortable story of a benevolent nonna, ignoring our misdeeds and airbrushing our failures. This is a God who, because of our need, and because of God’s own intent, has acted in Jesus to save those crushed under the boot of empire, and also those who wear the boots.
This is where I invite you to contemplate how God has acted. Imagine a God who has chosen to look exactly like us, in the same circumstance as each of us, born. Is there any greater affirmation of our humanity than God embracing it?
Immediately the trials and celebrations of our life are not distant to our God; the embrace of friends and family, the grief of loss, the injustices many experience, are known by the one whose breath is inherent to each of us. In Jesus, the fullness of our lives is embraced by the fullness of God.
And of all years, this Christmas, when isolation has been the story for young and old, for families and communities and nations. Our faith declares that God has drawn near to us in Jesus Christ, in a year when proximity has been prohibited. In a season when shaking hands and passing peace have been forbidden, at Christmas God embraces each of us.
In the simplicity of a baby’s birth, we hear the imagination of God’s yes. This story is welcomed with astonishment by the least, yet missed by monarchs, perhaps because the powerful always assume God has guaranteed their place and the powerless are surprised that God will scarcely bother with them at all.
Can we imagine Christmas worship with the hope of God’s promise in Jesus, despite our changed circumstances? We must insist upon the promise of God most especially this year, and every year.
How shall we celebrate this Christmas, when we need to mute our singing and gather at arms’ length? We cannot let fear of infection dilute the wonder of what God has done, we cannot let the lack of our singing restrain our celebrations. When we have been told that the only way to be safe is by being distant from each other, we proclaim that by coming close to all of us, God has indeed brought life.
In Jesus, God says yes to forgiveness, to justice, to healing. In Jesus’ birth, God embraces those on the edges, those unnamed, those our community brushes aside. When we believe that we are beyond the reach of God’s mercy, outside the hope of God’s love, Christmas asserts that none of us is beyond God finding each of us, welcoming us, and bringing us home.
Christmas assures us that God is never distant. In Jesus, God says yes.