I’ve loved Christmas for a long time, but it’s not why you’d think. It’s not about the presents, it’s not about the cookies or the meals, it’s not about the snow – heck, it’s not even about the birth of the long-awaited messiah. Nope. Actually, it goes back to my teenage years when I was working as an organist.
Christmas Eve was the one service of the year that I could play the last verse of Adeste Fideles with a Zimbelstern on top and a 64′ Resultant on the bottom. It’s not necessarily my favorite Christmas hymn, but it’s one that people seem to really sing out. Phrases like “Glory to God in the highest” and “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing” really invite the singer to shout “venite adoremus Dominum” like nobody’s business.
But for me, that’s just about all Christmas has ever meant – awesome hymns and a lot of people singing them. See, for a lot of people, Christmas is all about the baby. For me, it’s about everything except the baby. To me Christmas isn’t just a one-time event that happened millennia ago. Rather, it’s the never-ending parousia (Greek: presence, arrival, visit) of God in the midst of – and for the sake of – the world. It’s God’s very self being revealed in the muck of humanity. Sure, that happened through the infant Jesus on that first Christmas morn. But it’s still happening, all around us, every day. And to some people, you might just be that presence of God – the light shining in someone’s darkness.
So ask yourself – where have you seen the Word become flesh? When have you seen God come alive in an unlikely place? What has God done through you that you don’t even know?
My wish for you this Christmas is that you will forget about the baby in a manger. Just for a few moments. Forget about the hay and the shepherds and the percussive livestock. Instead, imagine all the other places where God is breaking into your life. Picture God’s self coming among humanity to share in its joys and sorrows. And then, share – or become – that image of hope and reconciliation in the midst of this broken world.
I wish you all a very merry parousia!