Matthew 11:2-5 NRSV
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Our waiting is over. Christ has arrived in fulfillment of God’s great promise to redeem our lives and creation. God’s joy overflows and will not be restrained on this day. Angel choirs sing. Shepherds hurry to see the sight. Wise men undertake their lengthy but persistent journey to worship and offer their gifts. Mary ponders all of theseenigmatic events in her heart, perhaps overwhelmed at what God can do. Perhaps, like us, she is left deeply wondering about the meaning of the messiah’s arrival for her life and the world.
What does the arrival of the messiah mean? That is a question Christ’s birth brings to each one of us. It means the world has changed. The gift of Christ is for you and for me. We can see and live this truth. Where despair and fear are strong, God brings a hope born of covenantal faithfulness that God shows up, God remembers us and brings the very best in love to our lives. The promise of the ages is fulfilled that God would bring help in sending a messiah, a savior. Our hope has arrived in Christ, greater than any earthly power. And God’s joy overflows and spills into our lives, reaching for you and me. Many of us experience great difficulty in the holidays as life’s stress and pain refuses to take a vacation. Yet God brings more than Christmas cheer. It is a deeper joy as the promised child arrives, giving birth to the fullest expression of God’s love. We can receive this joy which moves generously into every human heart and circumstance, neither defeated nor diffused by life’s troubles and worries.
In the birth of Jesus, God calls us into a new world, a new reign that God is creating. It is a world where the lowly are lifted up. It is a world where the forgotten are invited into close communion with God. It is a world where injustice is challenged and overcome by God’s righteousness and immense love. All earthly powers are subordinated to God’s greater purposes. As we participate in the birth and life of Christ we step into this new Kingdom and reign God is bringing. We are invited to come and see what God is doing, to live in this new reality where God’s love defines all relationships. We rejoice! In the birth of Jesus, everything is different. Let us welcome and embrace God’s holy child, born for us.
On this holy day, let us pray in the familiar words from Rev. Phillips Brooks:
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!
Dave Summers, PhD