God is for us with us and in us
The great story of Christmas is ever new, always outlasting the twelve days annually allotted to the season. If we have extraordinary reasons this year, in the words of Barack Obama, “to hug our children a little tighter”, then let us also continue to cradle both gently and firmly in our own arms this story of the babe, the son of Mary.
The one born to awaken the light of consciousness among us, to illuminate our hopes, and to outshine our fears of the darkness we find within us and around us (John 1.5).
There has never been a greater need for poets and prophets to hold before us a picture of the common good, in a world where children take the lead for humanity as they play unharmed (Isaiah 11). And undoubtedly, after the events of Sandy Hook, a legislated end during 2013 to all assault weapons in civil society would be consistent with that vision!
Charles Wesley, author of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, may have been onto something when he said Jesus was ‘born to give us a second birth.’ Could it be that the memory of that first birth may indeed become the occasion of a new life within us this year? A second birth that takes us beyond what Einstein called the optical delusion of consciousness, whereby we imagine ourselves to be separate from, or superior, or inferior, to others. A new birth within us, opening us to a world of radical grace.
How big is that grace? Step back 650 years into Persia, and hear these words of Hafiz:
“Even after all this time,
The Sun has never told the Earth
‘You owe me’.
Look what happens
With a love like that, It lights the whole sky”.
Like Hafiz, Mother Teresa could see that blazing sky well, when she articulated that it is not leprosy or tuberculosis that is the primary name for what people are dying of — it is in fact the absence of love and compassion.
A recent study in Metro Vancouver highlighted this very theme, when citizens identified the suffering of loneliness as the number one social issue in this beautiful part of the world.
As we honour the one named Immanuel, God-With-Us (Matthew 1.23), may this be an occasion for the rediscovery of the God who is always silently, subtly, serenely, subatomically, and superbly, WITH us, and indeed FOR us, and indeed IN us. And especially in the face of an isolating loneliness.
Who is WITH us and FOR us as surely as Joseph kept a wise and weaponless watch over his vulnerable family, a man with recourse only to his dreams and his discretion, and whose only immediate economic prospect was a refugee claim in a foreign land (Matthew 2.13-15).
Who is IN us as surely as Mary carries within her the mystery of the babe, and carries within her simultaneously the magnificent music (Luke 1.47-55) that simultaneously brings down the proud and raises up the poor, that we may all belong together and have our place at the table.
Once we know from experience the grace of a God who is for us, with us, and in us, it will be all the easier to resolve take to the streets in 2013 with nothing but empathy in our hearts and loving service in our hands.
The Rev. Andrew Twiddy is the Rector (pastor) of the Anglican Parish of St. Anne & St. Edmund, Parksville. Questions or comments? firstname.lastname@example.org, or 250-594-1549