The fun of the festive season may be somewhat tainted by confusion, doubt and disappointment this year. Yet, in the midst of the darkness, the light shines even brighter. Erik Strandness offers a reflection on the way each character in the Christmas story is transformed by the arrival of the Christ child.
A thrill of hope
Wise men from the East sense an overwhelming disturbance in the Force and know that True Wisdom has entered the world. Shepherds tending their flocks by night suddenly realize that they are sheep in need of a Shepherd. Culturally remote they stand side-by-side, city and country, sage and simpleton, gazing upon the Kingdom come.
Mary and Joseph frustrated by the dreariness of the rustic stable feel it being set free from the bondage of decay by His first cry. The howling wind outside becomes melodic as it passes through this temporary heavenly dwelling. The incessant groaning of the stable animals becomes a contented sigh as they eagerly look upon the One who will open the doors to the earthly orphanage and adopt the sons of God.
The weary world rejoices
Simeon spent his whole life contemplating the chasm between God and man and now holds in his arms the baby who will die to bridge it. His many years sitting on the religious shore staring at the divine swell on the horizon comes to an end as it finally makes land and crashes over him like a wave of living water. In the cry of this newborn he knows he can answer the call of the Kingdom and depart in peace.
Anna worships night and day expectantly awaiting God’s presence. She resolutely remains in the temple fearing that if she ever departed she might miss His coming. The years of fasting and praying have taken a toll, but as a prophetess she knows that God is always good on His Word.
Finally, her years of diligence are rewarded as she meets her long-awaited redeemer. She is taken aback because she had expected a pillar of fire but instead encountered a helpless babe. She always knew that God was coming in power but could never have imagined that His power would be found in weakness.
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn
One particular day 2,000 years ago, the cultural darkness was pierced by a star of hope that would become a Light to the world. The incarnation should be a constant reminder to us that whenever we step down to love others we bring them one step closer to heaven.
“…the great pitfall of Christian art, especially when it tries to portray the birth of Christ, is sentimentalism…the incarnation becomes merely a Christmas card with all the scandal taken out of it instead of what St. Paul called ‘a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles’, instead of the proclamation that the Creator of the ends of the earth came among us in diapers.” (Frederick Buechner)
Merry Christmas friends!