The filth and stench of an animal stable, engulfed in the silent chills and darkness of night; a poor young couple anxiously groping with straws to make a bed in a manager — this grotesque display of abject poverty is the setting by divine plan for the birth of the most glorious, perfect, powerful and loving human being ever. A piercing, riveting, shocking and disturbing message from God is delivered to each of us. By giving his Son the very least and the very worst, we understand that earthly possession, treasures and wealth are not needed for dignity and worth as his children.
This first Christmas Eve ushered in the world’s greatest person, destined to proclaim the world’s greatest news — sin, selfishness and death can be overcome. He proclaims a new way of life abounding in peace, kindness, patience, forgiveness, servanthood — love; a caring way that rescues the suffering and the oppressed; a way of believing all of us are equal and honorable; a way of transforming our hearts, enabling us to joyfully bear the burdens of life and of each other. This Christmas message is to change us. The providential impact of this divine child’s entrance into this world is to stop us, correct us, convert us and perfect us.
Parties abound. We are found repeatedly frolicking and feasting. Lights are aglow everywhere. Billions are spent with mountains of gifts exchanged.
Hopefully we all will be able to step away from such blinding self- indulgence to hear the quite, to feel the cold, to see the dark and to be moved by the bright vision of the stable. Hopefully we all will welcome this greatest of all humans — by having a place in our hearts for his message, his Gospel, his Person — and eternally his Kingdom. May we each experience this holiday as a Holy day.
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psycholog: firstname.lastname@example.org