25 Dec A Christmas Greeting for 2021
I am writing to you on Christmas morning in this year of our Lord 2021, to wish you a wonderfully joyful Christmas.
Yesterday I entered a neigbourhood newsagent to buy a card for a friend. There I encountered rows upon rows displaying hundreds of festive cards. I looked and looked, walking up and down. Eventually there it was! A single card referencing the birth of Jesus. It was off in a corner under the heading “RELIGIOUS.”
To follow Jesus is and always has been profoundly counter-cultural. Jesus is not to be found in the central current of the cultural mainstream. Wonder of wonders, the eternal Son, the creator of all things, must be sought in the margins. Born in a stable,* his infant body was placed in a feed trough. Sung by angels, and adored by shepherds, his family had to flee the ruling power of the day, Herod Antipas, to seek refuge in Egypt.
Jesus once said “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). It is the world after all! Jesus himself was no stranger to the world’s troubles (Isaiah 53:3). Then came his answer: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus had been preparing his disciples for the griefs of rejection which he knew lay ahead of them, encouraging them that their grief would give way to joy. In him they would find their peace: “I have told you these things so that in my you may have peace.”
There is such comfort, peace and blessing in Emmanuel. There is nothing like it. He is the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46), the Treasure for which all the riches this world affords are worth exchanging.
We live in troubled times, and I sense that the greater troubles lie ahead and not behind us. Yet … the King of Peace reigns still.
Every blessing to you and those you love this Christmas. May you find Jesus on the edges, the in-between spaces from grief to joy, from lack to abundance, from despair to hope. Overlooked by the worldly powers of the age, Jesus is edgy. May his Spirit break through into your life with exhilarating fire and grace!
Merry Christ-mas! And Happy Holy-day!
The painting is the Adoration of the Shepherds by Giorgione, painted 1505-1510.
*Not mentioned in the Gospels, the stable is a reasonable, if not entirely certain inference, given that there was no room for the family to stay at the inn, and Jesus was laid in a manger (Luke 2:7).