In the quieter time following a busy December I’ve spent more time watching, listening and reading the news, not an altogether happy experience. So much of our news is dominated by ‘bad news’ – fear, terror, pain, fleeing, sadness and tears. Time and time again we watch, hear and read of the awful stuff that humans do to one another. And yet amidst the inevitable denouncing of those capable of such atrocities there are also reports of people expressing love and support for those lost, the injured, the fearful, the desperate, the lonely. There are reports of courage and compassion, of humankind standing shoulder to shoulder in support and love, of people sharing the very best of themselves – ‘good news’.
And this is what we celebrate every Christmas…
This Christmas and Epiphany we celebrate God standing with us, shoulder to shoulder, identifying with His own people in the face of the consequences of our own sin. We celebrate God coming to be with His own people, taking on our humanity so that He may restore us. God, stepping beyond justice, to mercy and grace. It is sometimes said that God dispensing justice is God giving us what we deserve, that God showing mercy is God withholding what we deserve, but that God freely giving grace is God giving what to us what we could never earn.
Our language is so inadequate in expressing what the first Christmas really means, what the birth of a God as a human, weak and vulnerable really means - this isn’t just God sympathizing, or wanting to show support, or coming to simply give us a good example to follow. This is God, in Jesus, both human and divine; living, dying and rising to draw us back to His Father.
This is God, in Jesus, being us, and raising us to live in Him.
Emmanuel – God with us… we’ve never needed Him more.
Rev. Laura Hill, Rector