Tuesday, December 25, 2012 marks the anniversary of the birth of one child who changed the world. It does not matter what you believe about him: his life, his death, his teachings. His influence is everywhere beginning with calling this day Christmas. In this we remember Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, who is the reason for this season. Exchanging gifts reenacts the bringing of gifts to the child in homage by the wise men from the countries to the east of Bethlehem in Judah, just a few miles from Jerusalem in today’s Israel.
Whether the stories of shepherds and angels and stables and stars are poetic license or the real deal, they set the stage for the life lived for 33 years before handling it over to the Roman soldiers who would take it in a brutal, degrading way with mockery and blood and gore. Then in the most preposterous of actions he is alive again, seen by hundreds whose very lives were forever changed in direction and courage and faithfulness to God.
The very miracle of his life is hallowed and finally understood as the ultimate gift of love to God’s beloved creation. It is the once and for all time sacrifice for redemption that frees us from being our own worst enemy.
As we live out our current days wondering what the future will bring, why there are such awful tragedies in this world, fearing the worst in humankind, let us hope anew for the best in humankind to shine forth. Let us draw strength from the life lived in a backwater town in a small province of a great empire, remembering that he freely chose to be a sacrifice for the very brokenness that leads to such horrific behavior we call evil.
Joel Rosenberg, Messianic Jewish author and speaker, has this to say about this season: "May I encourage you to be found faithful in the small and quiet things. Be found faithful to your spouse and children, to those in your community, to those in need around you. Be found faithful in time spent alone with [God], in time spent together with those you love, in time spent preparing meals together, and giving to those less fortunate, and in doing acts of Christ-like kindness and compassion. Be found faithful, as well, in sharing the good news of God’s loving and gracious offer to all [human]kind - his free gift of love, and forgiveness, and eternal life to all who will call upon the name of the Jesus the Messiah in faith."
Amid all the noise and flashing lights and ringing cash registers it is still the small and quiet things that bring the most deeply satisfying peace and joy. These are the things I wish most for you all, now and throughout the New Year to come.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Evelyn King is a preaching elder at the Community Presbyterian Church with graduate work in values education from San Francisco Theological Seminary and a BA in psychology/social science. She is a past director of the Healy Senior Center and the facilitator of senior fitness exercise.
Evelyn King can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.