The Incarnation As The Good News Of God’s Reign
The Incarnation is not just about the birth of Jesus, rather, it is a celebration of the entire Christ Event, it is a celebration of God’s Self-communion with the world, with all humankind. It is a time in which I think about, not “putting Christ back in Christmas, but about putting Christ back in Christians. It is a time to see and rejoice in the new light coming into the world. “Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives.” (Collect for Christmas 1, BCP, page 213)
The Prologue to the Gospel of John in chapter one echoes this sense of the entire Christ Event, Jesus’ birth, life, mission, ministry, death and resurrection as well as the vision of light coming into the darkness.
"In the beginning was the word and the word was God and the word was with God. . . what came into being in him was life and the life was the light of allPeople. . .The light shines
in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. . .The word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory,that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth."
“And to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” (John 1)
So, what does it mean to be children of God, what does it mean to “put Christ back in Christians?” I believe it means to work for justice, freedom and Peace, to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, to comfort the lonely and to fight oppression. We see Jesus set this example for us in the fourth Chapter of the Gospel of Luke: “the spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. . .today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
This is what I believe it means to put Christ back in Christians. It is not about a “birthday party for Jesus,” but about the light of God coming into the world to banish the darkness. And if Jesus is the light of all people, then I believe that that means All People. If this relationship makes us children of God, then we are called to share the light with all people: Red and Yellow, Black and White, Christian, Jew, Muslim and Atheist, Gay and Straight, Conservative and Liberal.
To quote an old song, “they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, they will know that we are Christians by our love.” There are, unfortunately, some Christians who are better known by their hate and judgment and anger toward those who differ from them than they are by their love. Rather than judge and hate, the light of Christ calls us to engage those with whom we disagree, and to communicate with them. Our faith demands that we speak the truth as we know it to those with opinions and actions that we believe are hurting some of God’s precious children. This is important whether we disagree with President Obama or Speaker Boehner, or Phil Robertson, or even The Episcopal Church. After all, this is exactly what Jesus did. I hasten to add, that this also got Jesus killed.
I believe we must trust and speak the grace and truth of God as we find it in Jesus: even if people disagree with us? Yes. even if the slander us? Yes. even if we lose our jobs? Yes! We do this because we have been entrusted with the light of the world which the darkness can never extinguish by the one who is called “wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, prince of Peace.”