And Christmas comes in the unexpected, strangeness of Divine mystery. There are the stories of Matthew and Luke that tell of virgin and baby, backwater Bethlehem, fluffy animals and distant visitors, insignificant people amidst power and might. There is also a profound story in John (John 1:1-18) that takes us back farther into the time beyond time, the Realm beyond space the before that was before anything. John says that there was the Word, a form, a blueprint at the heart of everything that could and would ever be. This Word was with God and was God (but what is God? – another word that betrays a mystery that is deeper and more profound than we can comprehend?). This Word embraced flesh, the physical, material world that emanated from the Word in the beginning when time first became and 3-dimensional space was. This creative Word, a blueprint of God imbuing all being, embraced flesh and moved into our neighbourhood – pitched tent and lived among us! The Word that is God so blessed the material that the Word became us and lived with, in and through us as flesh and Spirit, as enchanted, sacred mystery that fills life with wonder, awe and rich beautiful meaning!
This Christmas story is not replete with the symbols we so dearly hold and know, as familiar – the tree, the baby, the simple parents in a cattle stall, kings bearing gifts, the star and angels… This Christmas story has a raw power to tear through our desire to control, define and know. When we want to hold everything in stunning simple clarity, this story declares paradox, mystery and invites us to let go and gaze in wonder at the love that is at the very heart of everything that is.
Christmas comes to us in profound moments of enlightenment, when our eyes open, our ears hear and our spirits encounter the mystery of wonder we call God. This may be in the very simple beauty that inhabits our world, that which we take for granted, the daily miracles of life and living. Christmas may come in the momentous occasions that change us through a deep grief, a profound love or an awe-inspiring wonder that hold sus transfixed. Christmas is an inner transformation, an experience that transcends the ordinary and connects us into the deeper power of Love in which we live and move and have our being. This Love is the relational reality of God, the flow that holds Father, Son and Spirit (Creator, Christ and Spirit) in creative community and emanates out into everything that is.
Christmas is not in the symbols or even the story but to the experience to which these point – the experience of grace in which we are face to face with God and glimpse the profound love in which we are truly held. Christmas is the experience of hope and joy in which we know profoundly that whatever happens nothing can separate us from this Love that holds us. Christmas is the opening of our eyes and hearts and hands to embrace others into our care and compassion with generosity and freedom. We are delivered from fear and exclusion, the desire for conflict or hatred and judgement of others as we live and move and find life in this Christmas reality and the presence of God breaking in again and again and again!
May you encounter the profound life and Love at the heart of everything as you contemplate the coming of the Christ in the special celebrations of Christmas and in every day beyond.
A Christmas Poem
A Eucalypt blossom signals summer’s arrival.
It floods the tree with bright orange-red and stops me each day.
I pass it and wonder at its simple beauty; it is profound.
There are the abundant Jacarandas decorated in mauve beauty,
A carpet of plush purple flowers lines my path along the creek.
Parrots swarm and screech, singing of summer’s arrival with lusty joy.
The creek flows steadily downstream through bushland beauty.
The sun filters through the trees that glimmer in early light.
This is a rich place, filled with enchanted wonder and awe,
…with the Divine.
In the beginning before there was anything, there was – a mystery,
… a Word, a force or power or non-being Being
– a relational community of Love, we call ‘God’
From this Divine Community, a Mystery of life burst out in a Big Bang explosion of Loving creativity
And all became; order, life, everything we know, became.
This Word embraced flesh and moved into the neighbourhood
To live with and in and through us – Divine love and mystery
We celebrate the imprinting of human life with Divine blessing
We celebrate Divine enfleshment in a baby’s birth
A simple, young woman blessed above the powerful
A backwater town in meagre surroundings
So the story goes, Word and flesh kissed, a Divine mystery
Lowly shepherds celebrated
Pagan Magi worshipped and a despot ruler murdered
A star lit the sky as the Light of the World radiated our darkness
An angel chorus sang and the world was blessed
Now lights fill the night, displaying sleighs, a red-dressed man
Snow, reindeers, tinsel and trees.
Parties and gifts, feasts with family
Cards and greetings, and hopeful expectation
As we await – Christmas.
Beyond this excitement the Christ gently arrives
To touch each life with blessed, sacred, Divine life,
A gift to renew and lift and reorient, to inspire and enlighten
A love that arrives from the heart of everything to hold us in grace.