Final Sunday of Advent. The taste and scent of Christmas tantalizes: the reverberation of one very simple story cascades through centuries. That very real, very touching story most intimately bounds humans one to another.
Jesus’ birth was a highly anticipated and yet somehow unexpected event that immediately altered lives: Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth’s. The Gospel accounts vary, but the essence highlights a young couple, miraculous news of the birth, sharing shock with family, a required trek to Bethlehem, and an inn without a room for even the most vulnerable. There is a poignancy to it, a tenderness that is captured in holiday pageants and child-like creches.
Most deeply human, the story transcends race and ethnicity, geographic locations and class structures. It opens where each life begins, with birth. And it continues with the challenge of new demands; it illustrates compassion and cruelty, and it opens a doorway to grasping the great common denominators among all human beings. Those very first breaths of a newborn inspire awe of the miraculous and expose the raw reality of the common bond among all humans. New life is there as an invitation; Christmas is the moment to celebrate that deep, incredibly powerful sense of what it means to be human.
The Christmas story, the one from the Gospels, is a link between centuries and cultures, a demonstration of the critical nature of family and the power of love unbounded. It is a story of hope, of continual renewal, of promise. By its very nature, the story encompasses each of us. Each of us starts as part of that miracle; we become part of a greater tapestry of humanity. Christmas is about the very gift of Life, and it is about how the gift is recognized, celebrated and struggled with.
Amid the strains of “Silent Night” this Christmas, that sacred birth will be remembered once more. This time, in a world suffering so much grief and brokenness, may it be a reminder of the deep and intimate bonds that link each human being to the next.