You are at home with your family and the power goes out plunging the house into darkness. Confusion, and concern are quickly present. You wonder what happened. You call out for others in the house. You scramble to find some source of light. (And if you are like most of us, the batteries in your flashlights are dead; you can’t find the emergency light and with the darkness comes fear.) Even if all you accomplish is one lit candle, the light it provides makes the situation less frightening and gives hope other sources of light can be found. The darkness has been defeated.
Once you have some light, you break out the radio. Once again, there is fear and a sense of dread. As you listen to the news, and as the news is broadcast, your sense of unease and your fears are reduced. Information brings some level of comfort and perhaps action. Light enables you to muster resources and huddle together, and when the power comes back on, there is a great sense of relief. It is no accident the symbols of Christmas are light and new information... "Good News".
God created each of us as an act of love. God wished to know us and have us know Her. God reached out and revealed who She is. She is loving and open, forgiving and hopeful, compassionate and faithful. We were invited to love back, forgive, and spread compassion and hope and to draw as close to God as we desire. In fits and starts, we would take a step forward only to backslide into our own egos, our own needs, and ignore God. Despite God's best efforts, no one seemed to fully grasp what was offered. We lived in a dark world searching for light. We prayed for guidance. We asked God for help, for a sign, for a way to find meaning and hope in a dark world. We were afraid of the dark and looking for news of God's presence. We huddled together wishing for answers.
The Christmas story, the amalgamation of Matthew and Luke's infancy narratives, is about light conquering darkness and hope defeating fear. The light of the star, the power of angelic voices, the searching by magicians all culminate in a manger in Bethlehem and the message goes forth..."Good News (gospel) of great joy for all people. A savior has been born who is Messiah and Lord." What's so good about this news? How does it bring light and what does it mean for us?
Matthew says this child, Jesus, will be called Emmanuel. It means "..in Him, God is with us." With the birth of Jesus, one human being finally gets it. He is the candle, the emerging light. He has news and something to tell us about how to end darkness and that everything is going to be alright. We don't have to be afraid any more. For the first time, God will love and be loved totally and completely in return. Jesus will choose to live His life as fully human as possible and draw so close to God as to describe it like being Father and Son. Because of Jesus, God will now offer Her grace to us fully and completely. Our fear about life and death is ended. Our worry about our purpose and goal in life is over. It will never be dark again.
Christmas is the celebration of one person, Jesus, who accepts and returns God's love so deeply, God now is able to offer the same opportunity to all of us. God is intimately involved in the world through Jesus' humanity, and now knows the joy of having that creative love returned. With the birth of Jesus, we are out of the darkness which despair and loneliness cause. We heard the "Good News". The result is the dawn of a new era, peace on earth and goodwill for all people.
I hope you will surround yourself with light on this Christmas...candles and lamps, brightly illuminated nativity scenes and stars on the tops of trees...as well as the love of family and friends. The "Good News" is the true light has come and with him a full life is available to you and a loving God awaits. Not a bad reason to celebrate. Merry Christmas to you all.