Reveal among us the light of your presence, that we may behold your power and glory.
Readings (Click the links to see the readings)
For your word which endures
Comfort, comfort now my people. Hymn translated from words by Johann Olearius (1671).
Human beings are wrapped up in themselves. Because of that great primitive betrayal that we call the Fall of humanity, we are all afraid of God and the world and our real selves in some degree. We can't cope with the light. As John's gospel says, those who don't want to respond to God fear and run away from the light. But God acts to heal us, to bring us out of our isolation. … He does what we do; he is born, he grows up, he lives for many years a life that is ordinary and prosaic like ours—he works, he eats, he sleeps. Here is ultimate love, complete holiness, made real in a back street in a small town. And when he begins to do new and shocking things, to proclaim the Kingdom, to heal, to forgive, to die and rise again—well, we shouldn't panic and run away because we have learned that we can trust him. We know he speaks our language, he has responded to our actions and our words, he has echoed to us what we are like.
Christ does not save the world just by his death on the cross; we respond to that death because we know that here is love in human flesh, here is the creator's power and life in a shape like ours. As we read the gospels, we should think of God watching us moment by moment, mirroring back to us our human actions—our fears and our joys and our struggles—until he can at last reach out in the great gestures of the healing ministry and the cross. And at last we let ourselves be touched and changed.
That's what begins at Christmas. Not a doctor coming in with a needle or a surgeon with a knife, but a baby who has to learn how to be human by watching; only this baby is the eternal Word of God, who is watching and learning so that when he speaks God's transforming word we will be able to hear it in our own human language. He is God so that he has the freedom to heal, to be our 'therapist'. He is human so that he speaks in terms we can understand, in the suffering and delight of a humanity that he shares completely with us. And now we must let him touch us and tell us that there is a world outside our minds—our pride and fear and guilt. It is called the Kingdom of God.
May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.