The present are all opened. The family meal is relegated to leftovers. Even the beautiful tree looks a bit forlorn, now dry and brittle, ready to shed countless needles along the path to the door. The laughter fades and we trade the busyness of Christmas for the busyness of the new year and whatever it may bring.
Whether we celebrated the joy of family or mourned those who are not here this year, whether all our wishes came true or we lamented yet another set of unmet expectations, it is easy to get so caught up in the hype that we miss the baby lying in the manger.
“He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.”
Indeed we run the risk of not recognizing the magnitude of Christ as Immanuel, “God with us.” In the Incarnation which we celebrate today, God came into the world to be with us in all things. In the physical poverty of the stable, the social poverty of a pregnancy outside of marriage, in the political poverty of foreign occupation, in the spiritual poverty of sin and brokenness, Jesus lived the suffering of our lives. In whatever struggles you face, what do you seek? Do you seek comfort? Numbness? Stoic endurance? Or do you seek to know Him who came to be in relationship with you?
“He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him”
When, like the shepherds coming to the stable, you do find Jesus in the unlikely, unpowerful, dirty and distressed places of your life, are you willing to accept Him for what He will do? Even if that is not what you would want? Are you willing to welcome God into your deepest hurts and disappointments? Are you willing to hear Him call you, “Beloved” and “Precious Child” even when you can find nothing lovable or precious in yourself or your circumstances?
In this season of Christmas and in the coming year, are you willing to take the prayerful moments to step outside of the busyness of life, in the midst of great joy or bitter disappointment, to savor the gift of the Incarnation, the God who is with us? Are you willing to know Him, accept Him, and in any circumstance proclaim:
“The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory”