Audio link: First sentence missing,"God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
“Unto us a child is born” [Is. 9.6, in anthem].
Christmas is a time of wonder, awe and thankful worship. For we go back to Bethlehem in our hearts and minds to see God for the first time, not only in human vesture/nature, but as a helpless baby! The beauty of the vulnerable infant united mysteriously to the divine majesty.
Now, all babies are lovely and bring out affection in all but the worst people. And Jesus would have been the same in that regard. Yet, babies are also demanding: they are hard work, as they can do nothing for themselves. Baby Jesus was the same in this regard: utterly dependent on his parents, especially Mary. We have to take the less “romantic” aspects of newborns seriously in order to remind ourselves that he was truly human. “No crying he makes” is a nice line, and certainly Jesus would have been a “good baby”, as his human nature was faultless, but Jesus had to let his parents know when he was hungry or in pain somehow. And we can be sure he didn’t say “Mother, I need to be breastfed” as an infant! And, yes, nappies would have to have been changed. Jesus was a real baby. [Burped, carried. Not superman in diapers.]
Christmas then is a reminder that our faith is not merely a philosophy that teaches us wise sayings and tells us what to do to be good. Christianity is Christ himself. God has not just talked to us, he has acted in human history, even to the point of becoming one of us. The Word has become flesh, because we needed more than the light of truth spoken or written, for our hearing was dull and our sight dim due to sin. We needed the Truth to come and live among us and the light to overcome the darkness by shining in the midst of it.
But even this would not have been enough, if the whole life of Jesus had just been one great long “object lesson”: a “fine example” for us all to follow. Yes, Jesus is an example to imitate, but he’s also much more. Indeed, we cannot imitate him until we have his life, his human (not just his divine) life, flowing through us. [We can become like him, because he became like us.]
So, Christians “get in and get dirty” and do many good deeds in the world, and don’t just sit back and think clever or holy thoughts. Why? Because God did! Yes, “it’s the right thing to do”, but we need more than ordinary, weak old conscience to explain the charitable works of Christians like Mother Theresa and St Francis of Assisi in the past and the millions of Christian volunteer-workers in the present. They are drawing on the strength of Jesus, the Incarnate God: the God who came down into our muck and mess, shared in our sufferings and gave himself completely for us.
And one major way we share in the wisdom, strength, life and love of the man Jesus (so we can be the sort of people who do these things) through the Sacraments. Physical, touchable things to create our bond with the physical Jesus. We connect to God through the humanity of Jesus.
And so we see that Jesus is our everything. He is the path and the bridge, as well as the goal we walk towards. He is our best friend, our brother, the human being closest to us; and our God. He is the teacher and the lesson. He is the priest and the sacrifice. He is the humble, sweet little infant of the First Coming and the all-conquering king of the Second Coming; our gentle Advocate and our fearfully holy Judge. O come let us adore him.