How Silently, How Silently the Wondrous Gift is Given

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!

These are harsh days in our world. Many in our time are hurting. For some, the damage is obvious. Across the world, we have more people existing in refugee camps than ever before. In our own neighborhoods, more children need backpacks filled with food to take home on Fridays, because without them their next meal isn’t until Monday. Poverty, hunger and suicide are increasing.

For many, the injury hides beneath the surface in the burdens they quietly bare: relational collapse, health strife, financial tension, loss of purpose, warring with their external circumstances and their internal demons.

Several watchers of our culture say we are seeing an epidemic of cruelty in these days; a lack of empathy causing people to feel more alone than ever before. Fearful human beings fill the landscape. Pain is prevalent and persistent.

And here comes Christmas. Our yearly experience of being awestruck!

The greatest surprise ever. That the God of the universe came to us as one of us; not as a high and mighty warrior dominating every enemy, not as an imposing political figure overpowering others. But as a vulnerable baby – conceived in mystery, born in anonymity, and surrounded by people of little renown. Unexpected! Totally unexpected!

But that’s not the only surprise. This baby came to teach us how God lives on this beleaguered planet. That God, instead of wielding ultimate power, embodied love. Personified love. Taught the wisdom of childlikeness, servanthood, and joy. Elevated the status of humility and graciousness. That enemies are to be loved, generosity defeats greed, and that faith in God’s love shines a light of hope in this darkened world that cannot be overcome.

And what is that faith? Faith is being grasped by the magnetism of love. Faith is seeing anew that at Christmas Jesus became like us, so that we might become more like him. And we recognize what that means: watching Jesus embrace the outcast, lift up the oppressed, heal the sick, empower the poor, and scorn the world’s version of status.

God’s love doesn’t seek value, it creates value.

My seminary professor, Dr. Joseph Sittler said it well: “How blended, in the Christian faith, are the simple and the sublime; how strangely is the profound transmitted by the ordinary; how quickly crumbles the pompous ostentation of our lives before the primal pure; how powerful is the clear, bright blade of amazing grace as it flashes again amid all forgettings, denials,  sheer clutterings.”

Blessed Christmas to all! Celebrate and may we so live God’s love!

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