This morning as I write this post, thousands upon thousands of children are rushing to wake their parents from their sleep, to gather around a pine tree in a living room (which is a good thing since it may be the only time of the year when something other than the TV might draw some attention in there), to see what Santa brought over when he broke into the house while everyone was sleeping. The excitement in their eyes, I'm sure, offers confirmation to their parents that all the shopping and all the decorating was worthwhile. For many of us, this scene is nostalgic. But as we are filled with such excitement, I can't help but wonder how much of this actually reflects the thing we are celebrating. What does this all have to do with the incarnation?
Christmas day, the event we celebrate on December 25th (at least most of us), is about the love of God taking on flesh and blood and taking up residence in this place we sinners call home. It is not one of those secret millionaire or undercover CEO reality TV shows. It's the God of the universe shacking up with us, affirming our experience, validating our suffering, and redeeming our situation. This day serves uniquely as a confirmation that God is not distant, God is not a monster, and God is utterly and fundamentally good. If God's goodness is hard to believe any other day of the year (and trust me, I struggle with that question with great frequency), today in Christ we receive a demonstration: God in a baby, born of poor and humble parents, wrapped and placed in a feeding troft. This is our sign of good news as the angels announced. God is not an arbitrary judge or a self absorbed tyrant. God is one of us. When we suffer, God suffers. Our fate is shared by our creator and the same body that is born this day will ascend the summit of human suffering only to overcome it, offering means for our salvation.
If that were only as real to us as presents under a tree perhaps the excitement and the jubilation would be redirected to the God from whom all blessings flow. The fact is, it is more real. The salvation that comes to us through the unadulterated presence of God's transformational love is now the truest thing about us, about this world. So may it be real to you today! May you share in the real presence of Christ's body and blood as you share this day with family and friends and may you share it in you own corporeal existence. Merry Christmas!