Sunday, February 05, 2006

"This will be a sign unto you: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" Luke 1:12

Two millennia have passed and the very simple, very powerful sign still burns bright.

Christmas reveals a marvelous mystery on the surprising, yet consistent, nature of God. From childhood I have been continually amazed by how God chose to come among us. The Alpha and Omega, the Architect of the Cosmos, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Word that was in the beginning with God and was God --- came to us as a helpless newborn, surrounded by the scents and snorts of barnyard animals.

Why such an entrance? The simplicity and humble earthiness of the manger are the mirror opposites of Lucifer's sin, Adam's sin and our sin - our overweening pride, our worship of the mighty ME. The manger takes our grasping and self-inflating and puts them on end. That image of the Christ child never fails to melt my pride. The manger tells me I no longer have to struggle to be sophisticated. With magnificent simplicity the Christ child has set us free to be who we are - loved, redeemed children of God.

What a gift! No need for one-upmanship. No drive to impress. All creation, all our lives, all our ordinary existence is acceptable, holy and pleasing to our God. And it's all laid out right there in the manger - still a sign unto us all.

Without the slightest exaggeration, these first few days with you have been the happiest and busiest for Jane and me. We truly have the Advent spirit of anticipation of the coming joy of Christmas at St. John's. It is great to be working with our dedicated parish staff. They join me in humble appreciation of the magnificent support you give to make our ministry a constant witness to Christ's love in the world.

May the joy of the angels and the peace of the Christ child be God's gift to you this Christmastide and always.

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