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Isaiah 52:7-10, Psalm 98, Hebrews 1:1-12, John 1:1-14

We cannot approach the manger of the Christ child in the same way we approach the cradle of another child. Rather, when we go to his manger, something happens, and we cannot leave it again unless we have been judged or redeemed. Here we must either collapse or know the mercy of God directed toward us. What does that mean? Isn’t all of this just a way of speaking? Isn’t it just pastoral exaggeration of a pretty and pious legend? What does it mean that such things are said about the Christ child? Those who want to take it as a way of speaking will do so and continue to celebrate Advent and Christmas as before, with pagan indifference. For us it is not just a way of speaking. For that’s just it: it is God himself, the Lord and Creator of all things, who is so small here, who is hidden here in the corner, who enters into the plainness of the world, who meets us in the helplessness and defenselessness of a child, and wants to be with us. And he does this not out of playfulness or sport, because we find that so touching, but in order to show us where he is and who he is, and in order from this place to judge and devalue and dethrone all human ambition. The throne of God in the world is not on human thrones, but in human depths, in the manger. Standing around his throne there are no flattering vassals but dark, unknown, questionable figures who cannot get their fill of this miracle and want to live entirely by the mercy of God. “Joy to the world!” Anyone for whom this sound is foreign, or who hears in it nothing but weak enthusiasm, has not yet really heard the gospel. For the sake of humankind, Jesus Christ became a human being in a stable in Bethlehem: Rejoice, O Christendom! For sinners, Jesus Christ became a companion of tax collectors and prostitutes: Rejoice, O Christendom! For the condemned, Jesus Christ was condemned to the cross on Golgotha: Rejoice, O Christendom! For all of us, Jesus Christ was resurrected to life: Rejoice, O Christendom! … All over the world today people are asking: Where is the path to joy? The church of Christ answers loudly: Jesus is our joy! (1 Pet. 1: 7–9). Joy to the world! - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There have always been times when life has overwhelmed the human heart – these are the latest and maybe seem more intense because of the instantaneous capacity to hear the devastating news through all the media channels available around us.

Just when we want to be rescued – when we want a power greater than all the pain around us to swoop in and fix all that is wrong in our world – Just when we cry out in mourning, frustration and pain for God to do something – we find ourselves preparing for Christmas – and we hear again God’s response.

God does not come in power or triumph but in the soft, wail of a baby. God comes – in this most vulnerable way – entrusted to two young adults far from home and caught up in the systems and powers of their own times – and it is enough to change the world. A bevy of angels – a few shepherds doing their work – two faithful elderly worshippers in the temple and some strangers from a foreign country recognize something wonderful and profound has happened – but the fulfilment of the promise will take another thirty years.

In the midst of all that seems to be too much for our hearts in this year – remember the promise begun that Christmas night – in all vulnerability, smallness and insignificance to the powers around. God is here and all shall be well in God’s time.

May the hope, joy, peace and love birthed in Bethlehem fill your hearts and homes this Christmas and always.

The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls

Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Susan Johnson

National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada  

Embers, Richard Wagamese, p.91.

Let it be so, in all our relations. Blessed Christmas. Amen.