Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Therefore will the Lord himself give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and shall bring forth a son, and call his name Immanuel.  -- Isaiah 7:14  (Darby) 

There is a part of modern society that depresses me, angers me, and frustrates me.   It is that part of society that finds humor in the holy; it is that part that casts educated, scientific disparaging cynicism on the Holy Mystery.    For instance, the crude (and rude) joking about the Immaculate Conception.  It is that part of society, even found inside the walls of the church, that finds a quibbling energy to cast doubt and dissension by trifling over minutia.  For instance, I have sat through more discussions than I care to remember over whether the word "virgin" means virgin in the sexual sense, or more in the na├»ve or young girl sense.  Does it really matter?  To quibble over that nuance of meaning is to lose the real meaning to which the words point.   The meaning embedded in the Mystery of the Christmas story is lost In the arguing over details or in the making light of the larger story because we find in it a possibility for immature prurient humor.  I would hope it would make everyone sadder and a little angry. 

Look!  Hear!  A Love which knew no bounds threw itself down on the stage of broken human striving.  We were/are striving to make sense of war, of loss, of grief, of shame, of misfortune, of illness, and of death.  Humanism says "Work harder.  Never give up."  The Christmas witness says, "There is grace, a Presence With that does not take your worthiness into account."  We strive to claim more - more land, more resources, more rights, more freedom, more money.  Humanistic "common sense" says, "Take, Take, Take and keep it locked up tightly."  Christmas witness says, "Take me, love me and that will be enough." 

Love comes down at Christmas.  It is a love that we humans had dreamed about for generations; a love which all generations need, especially today's.  That love is a King, a servant, a teacher, a crucified lamb who takes away the sin of the world.  He doesn't quibble over his origin - He is from the Father in heaven.  He doesn't hold a gun to your head, only beacons gently for you to come and follow him.  He doesn't punish for all the rudeness and impoliteness you might heap on his head, but only forgives and promises, "You'll be with me this day in Paradise." (Luke 23:43) 

When Love came down it took the lowly place of a manger.  He didn't take up swords and violence, or power.  He took up gentleness, quiet reason, and capable discourse.  Then, he willingly swallowed the bitter pill to eternally cure you of your all human weakness and failings.   Yes, Love came down at Christmas... "Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine;  love to God and all men, love for plea and gift and sign." (Christina Georgina Rossetti, stanza 3, Love Came Down at Christmas, 1885) 

Forgive us Lord Jesus, when we lose our senses and fall off our sensibility into the vulgar ways of secular humor or mindless debates.  Keep us focused on recognizing the Love you've sacrificed for us that we might be love in return to others.  Amen.

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