God comes to us in the most ordinary ways. C. S. Lewis said, “In our world there was once in a stable Someone who was bigger than the world itself”. In the same way, He can be in our souls too…today. The mystery of Jesus’ birth, of incarnation is humbling and awe-inspiring. It proclaims not only that “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1: 14) but also that God mysteriously hides within us, making us His home. I was on the plane recently and I saw a sunset while flying above the clouds. This breathtaking beauty made me think, “Wow, God created all this, made the world so beautiful, and then choose to be born as one of us”. Jesus shows us that God wants to give of Himself. Love has an intrinsic characteristic of sharing and multiplying, it does not gather itself to be kept for some other occasion, nor does it ever run dry. Within us there is ‘a fountain’ where God placed His love to reside. He lets us find it when He thinks most fitting.
Through the centuries, people waited on the Messiah, trusting the promises the prophets proclaimed. Their Advent was lengthy; they had to wait a long time. The Advent when Mary became a God-bearer was the end of that very long centuries old waiting. It is almost like there are two aspects to Advent – Old and New; the promises of old took a long time to be fulfilled, but when the new came, the atmosphere of waiting changed as well. This new Advent, Mary’s Advent, proclaimed that the promises were now being fulfilled, though only a few knew about it. The rest of us would have to wait till Jesus is born to find out this amazing news.
Ruth Patterson said that over a period of time we can become what we love. She said, “God became what He loved, He became a human being; what a huge risk and what an enormous price to pay”. God became one of us. Let us pause with that thought for a while. Read it again, slowly. In time we can become what we love, and Jesus became one of us. Christ came to show us that we are loved by God. You are loved by God. Jesus did not come to the world to condemn the world, but to save and transform it.
When He came, Jesus was not the Messiah many hoped for, He was different, came in such surprisingly simple ‘human’ ways; but he was better than what many hoped for. The first Christmas was a cosmic event; a moment of eternity that embraces all that Jesus is and did in one simple breath in order to place it in the core of humanity. That event changed the core of the universe, an event that brought redemption in order to take us where we came from – to take us back to Eden, though this one being secretly held within our souls.
Christ came to the world to bring light and His light can be lit in the darkest corners of our souls and of this world; it can reach the un-reachable. However, we have to assist it. If a plant is to grow, it needs air; if a tree is to renew itself it needs time. Retreating from time to time to attend to what we carry within us, letting the Gaze of God’s love shower our souls, may expose some of those unlit corners, areas within us that only God can heal. His healing touch can bring thousands of new lights shining like starts in hidden places we never knew of before. Our soul is a lantern in which Christ can shine. He is the Light and it is here and now that He can be found. If we are attentive, the random and common events of our lives can become times of ‘epiphany’, of Christ coming among us. We too can witness God bringing Himself down to our little human reality in order to show us how beautiful it is to be human.
Christmas is all about God telling us He is with us, inviting us to be with Him too, because we are dear to Him, we matter to Him. The star of Bethlehem showed the way to Christ on that first Christmas Eve, and the light of all of those who embraced Christ throughout the centuries will point the way this year. But Christ does not only come to Christians, He was born for everyone. This year I think of a holy family living in Iraq, among exiles from the war, among the refugees Christ is born. This holy family that I have in mind is a Muslim family, my friend and her husband and two little boys, their love for each other, fighting to keep hope alive where there is often no hope, their purity of hearts brings Christ to life this year (for me). Christ will be born all over the world, but especially in America, among the black community, tonight I pray He brings His light. He will tell especially those who mourn, “Take heart, I was born for you too and I love you. You are not alone”. No matter what your circumstances, no matter what your needs, Christ will be born today for you too – to bring you light, and love and hope, but above all to tell you again, in many small silent ways, “You are loved. You are not alone”. Happy Christmas!
© Iva Beranek (December 2014, edited a reflection from a few years ago)
Photo by © Iva Beranek