before her pain came upon her she delivered a son.
Who has heard of such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
There is the world that we wish for, and there is the world that is. The events of these past few months have shocked us into recognizing that the world in which we dwell is not how we would really like it to be. The storm earlier this fall reminded us that even with all our advances that comfort and protect us, raw nature can wipe away what took years to build up in a few short minutes. The shock of children being killed in their school rooms reminds us that the world contains great evil that can erupt any moment. Yet, in this mess of a world we live, we read: “I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live;” (Ecclesiastes 3:12 NRSV) For these events remind us that every moment is precious and comes by only once. This Bible reminds us that this point is reason enough to savor the times and the seasons this Christmas, and yet if this is all there is, things may still seem bittersweet.
But there is always more with God. There is the true miracle of Christmas: the incarnation. God becoming one of us. God out of love does not leave the world to its own devices, he enters into the mess, becoming as we are, to tell us we are not alone in our suffering. For Christ suffered as we suffer. “Nails, spear shall pierce him through, the cross be borne for me, for you,” writes William Dix in the hymn “What Child is This?” Through the resurrection of Jesus suffering is always transformed into hope. Nikolaus Herman wrote:
He undertakes a great exchange,
puts on our human frame,
And in return gives us his realm,
his glory and his name.
At both the manger and the cross, God transforms the mess of our world; at both, the Spirit comes to call people together into a community to support and be there for one another. Likewise if the suffering we have witnessed these past few months is to have any meaning we must answer the Spirit’s call to come together, listen to each other, offer our tangible and emotional support in order to be with our neighbors in their suffering as God has shown to be with us in ours. We have the power to give suffering meaning by demonstrating love in all its tangible forms. One of the best ways to demonstrate our love and to start this process is simply just to celebrate with others so that we all get the message that we are not alone. Yes this world is a mess, but we are in this mess together, I would rather be in the mess with you than be in the most perfect of worlds alone. That is what Christmas means to me, that is what I have seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. So Merry Christmas and as always....
Keep the Faith,
PS: If you are around the Springfield NJ area come and celebrate with us this weekend.
Saturday December 22, 5:30PM Worship & Christmas Carol Sing along (with cookies!!)
Sunday December 23, 10 AM Worship featuring special guest artists.
Monday December 24, 3PM Live Nativity,
4 PM Family Christmas Worship,
7 PM Candlelight Worship.