What is the heart of Christmas for you this year?
This is a question that Boyd and I have been asking ourselves and each other since Advent began. Sometimes we ask it another way - "what does Christmas mean for us this year?"
For the two of us as ministers it always means extra services and events, so increased workload. It also means that because of this we are steeped in the scriptures and church traditions. We begin to breathe them it seems - they begin to permeate our world. For me this takes me to the heart of Christmas.
I love the trees, the lights, the music, the cookies! But sometimes they distract me from the heart of the Advent and Christmas message. Which is God's reminder that God is as close to us as our own breath. God is here with us - in each other and in us. That's what incarnation means after all. The word "incarnate" comes from the Latin verb incarnare, from in- ‘into’ + caro, carn- ‘flesh.’ God is with us "in the flesh". The only way that can happen is through people, through us and our embodied spirits.
The scripture story of the baby Jesus is a reminder to us that God is already with us (that's what Emmanuel means - "God With Us"), God is with us all the time, in every moment. Our call as people of God is to live like this all the time. In every decision we make, and every action we take.
And what a very lovely and profound way God has chosen to remind us. To invite a young woman of no social or political status to offer herself as the gift-bearer. To invite a man of great integrity and little economic power to accompany her on this life-journey. To invite foreign dignitaries and scholars to pay homage to this child who is "God-With-Us". To invite shepherds - hard working people - to witness and celebrate this wonderful truth.
And so it is that once again this year God invites us to simultaneously celebrate the incarnation already among us and within us, and to ready ourselves for a deeper experience of this "God-With-Us" mystery/miracle.
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