Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
December 22, 2008
Find God in the moment and worship him
It would have been so much simpler if Christ had been born the son of the Roman emperor. As he grew, he would have performed miracles of great renown and all would have acknowledged them. Or else! It would have been clear to all that he was the Son of God and he would have had the power of the Roman Army to back up that claim.
St. Paul's missionary work, with an impoverished tentmaker and his sidekick trekking through Greece and Turkey, would have been so unnecessary. There would have been no persecution and martyrdom of tens of thousands of believers.
How much more straightforward if the emperor had just issued a decree that Jesus is God's Son and that we should all bow down and worship him. One of the great stories of history is how the Gospel spread from a tiny outpost in Judea to become the dominant religion of the Western world within a couple of centuries. An emperor's decree would have made it even neater and quicker. One signature on the dotted line and the soldiers would look after the rest. Any recalcitrants could have been handled in an appropriate manner.
Instead we have the Jesus as history has given him. A child in a manger, wrapped in a death shroud. Worshipped to be sure, but only by a few shepherds and some astrologers who saw a star. The rest of the world was oblivious. Anonymity.
This is an even more obscure way than most of us begin life – except, of course, we are not worshipped.
What is the message here?
One is the simplicity of God among us. Salvation is through meekness, through poverty of spirit. If we expect God to come into our lives in dramatic ways, we will end up as atheists. We need to be attentive to the moment – the silent, obscure ways in which God becomes present.
Second is human freedom. God respects our freedom to accept or reject him. He makes it paramount. A decision sent down by authorities and soldiers would make one's "personal choice" meaningless. When we see signs of glory, we are called to be like the shepherds and the Magi – to come and worship. But how many saw the signs and ignored them? How many saw the signs, knew something was up and went about their business anyway?
The third message is don't get strung about by this. The signs are easy to miss. One must keep one's lamp lit and be watchful in order to see them. The fault is not with those who, amidst the clamour of life, miss the signs. The surprise is that some do see the star and do follow.
Be silent! Find God in this moment and worship him. Talk with him, have a relationship. Then commit your life to making the world a little more Christ-like, a little more gentle, a little more reflective of the Beatitudes. This is how to celebrate Christmas. Celebrate it everyday.
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