One of the great challenges at Christmas is the orientation that we seek from religious practice. Particularly at Christmas time, for many people, there is an expectation of “how we do Christmas,” in which we seek the orientation of the familiar and or the recreation of our memory of Christmases past. This is certainly not a bad thing, but it can be an obstacle to experiencing God a new.
The whole idea of incarnation is that God becomes flesh and dwells with us; we invite Christ to be born in us. Birth is a new beginning, the start of something that hasn’t been before. The idea of being “born again,” is not that we go back to the beginning and live our life over again in the same way, it is that there is a new journey and new relationship, a new creation.
Emperor Augustus initiated a census to control crowds, facilitate budgets and building projects and whatever else was on this administrations goal list. That census was reported to be the whole world, but in fact it was limited to those under Roman control and in perpetuation of Roman control. When the angels announce the good news of Jesus birth they proclaim “good news of a great joy for all people, for to you is born a savior…” The journey of salvation does not sure up our existing expectations and practices, it initiates a new world which we are offered a chance to participate. Shepherds risk moving sheep at night, inn keepers and families choose to open their space to a refugee family or not, and new parents balance their best vision of the future with the pressures of accommodating insensitive decrees, political power. There are choices all around, God chooses, people choose, and something new is born.
I hope that you will be open to receiving God’s choosing you this year, and that your orienting Christmas pursuits will bless you in the right ways. Please note that perhaps the greatest blessings may emerge from a break in your traditions. Jesus being laid in a manger because there was no room for him was a sign to be sure, but not one that anyone on earth was looking for. Be open to the God who comes in the way that God comes, and not just in the way that you are used to or are prepared to receive him.
Merry Christmas, Bill
Contemporary Worship Service Schedule in December
“The views of Christmas”12/2/2018 John the Baptist12/9/2018 Elizabeth and Zechariah12/16/2018 Joseph12/23/2018 Mary