Readings: Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-5, 9-14
He is the refulgence of God’s glory, the very imprint of his being…who sustains all things by his mighty Word. We heard these words from the Letter to the Hebrews, one of the most majestic and beautiful writings of the New testament. And these words describe the man we know in human history as Jesus of Nazareth, a human being like us and yet, as grasped by faith, also so different from us.
Different in what sense? Not different in his humanity or his experience of our limitations; perhaps a little different from our privileged lives, which he surpasses in the level of rejection and pain that he suffered. But on that score he is very like most people struggling to survive on the face of the earth, like most of the human race, suffering want and oppression.
He is even like us at our best–illuminating that sorrow and suffering with faith and hope, dispensing mercy and forgiveness as he surrendered to a painful death.
But he is unlike us in his origins–not created, not born, co-eternal with God, whom he addresses as “Father.” And as such he is the portal of communion with God and a God-like way of being, something none of us can achieve for ourselves.
When he assumed our human existence, he illuminated it with this transcendent openness to the divine. Not only in his death and resurrection, but in his working, his traveling, his teaching, his friendships, his breaking bread with us, his healings…he breaks through the crust of our limited existence and makes accessible the depths of God’s love and God’s life. For us, too, all and any of these activities, in Christ, could become a channel of God’s very life.
In Christ our humanity, like wax or clay, bears the imprint of God. We can actually grow closer to God by becoming more ourselves–not my self-centered preoccupations or self-absorption, but who God created me to become, drawing me out of myself.
When we celebrate the birth of Christ, we do not celebrate the anniversary of an event past and gone but we celebrate that birth happening now in the depths of our being, on this altar, in this congregation. We celebrate that birth that truly brings us to life.