Holy and wonderful is this season of Advent waiting, because we know how it all turns out. A healthy and beautiful baby is born against incredible odds to incarnate God into our daily lived reality. We don’t treat this child to well as an adult, and end up wrongly putting him to death, but somehow this is all part of the plan. Unbelievable. And yet, what is so hard to believe? Is it the angels? The miracles? The supernatural? The physically impossible?
No, what is perhaps most incredible and unbelievable is that we are worth it. At least, God thinks so. It would be so easy to give up on us. We’re a mess. We do so much we shouldn’t, we fail to do so much we should, we cause so much unhappiness and violence and war, we have such strong and wrong-headed opinions about so many things. We don’t seem to learn from our mistakes. We are making a mess of the planet. We don’t seem to know when and how to say “sorry.” Let’s face it, if we got what we deserved it would be a really lousy Christmas.
But what are we getting this year? Love. Forgiveness. Grace. Mercy. A call to peace and justice and unity. We are getting the two-thousandth plus second chance. And why? Because God so loves this world – and EVERYONE in it that God’s Son will be sent yet again to make sure we are all cared for and given hope. We shouldn’t take this for granted.
In a pandemic reality, with deep divisions in culture, society, politics, and family, God wants us to have life and to live it abundantly. God wants to take away our fear. God wants to redeem our hope. God, get this, wants us to know joy!
But there is a catch. God doesn’t dangle this opportunity out to us as individuals. They only way we are going to fully receive and enjoy this gift is collectively and collaboratively. My joy is contingent on your joy. My justice depends on my willingness to be just to you. My security is intrinsically tied to OUR security. My whole potential to benefit as a ME is to make sure I live as part of an engaged and healthy WE.
This is the part so many are missing right now. The entire entitlement mentality that says what I want, what I believe, what I think and feel is more important than anyone else will prevent us from knowing the abundant life God desires for us. What I am unwilling to do for others (oh, I don’t know, like wearing a mask or getting vaccinated…) shows where both my treasure and my heart are – and they are not with the will of God.
The will of God is simple: love. Love God. Love Neighbor. Love Self. All capitalized because all are important and all deserve love. Selfishness, not so much. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but it is faulty because it is built on a bed of selfishness. Good intentions lead to good destinations when resting on the bedrock of God’s grace.
So, God’s love? We’re getting it again this Christmas. Not because we deserve it. Not because it is this year’s hot-ticket item. No, we are getting it because the giver is the source and ground of all love and this source knows what we need the most. Do us all a favor. Don’t shove this gift away on a shelf, but take it out daily and use it. Get good at it. Be creative with it. And share it with others. You may be surprised how much fun you will have with it. Merry Christmas!