“You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship.”
~N. T. Wright
It is the season of Advent on the Christian liturgical calendar. Winter approaches with icy breath and inky darkness: clutching us like debtors, reminding us that we will one day pay for of days of living with our warm breath that steams up before our eyes in the early night air. The golden lights that appear everywhere seem more necessary and meaningful during this season. There is a desolation upon the land during the day, and a depression in the air throughout the night. The old and the sick sense the inescapable frailty of human shells.
But, it is now that the Church decides to celebrate the birth of Jesus; his birth into an overcrowded city; his birth into a dark place of profane surroundings.
Oh, this is indeed a good place for Jesus, the Christ, to be born into our year and our lives. I never realized before as a child that Jesus came to us in the darkness, perhaps because I never wanted to understand that part of the story. Now I understand the profundity of Christmas.
For many, the Christmas season is a time of joviality and cheer, giving and love. These life-giving pleasures are all wonderful and beautiful in their own way, but if this is all our Christmas is to be about then it is an incomplete experience, and we will miss out on the deeper beauty of this season. For the true meaning of Christmas, we must leave the joy and pleasure that we normally associate with Christmas, and travel to meet those in darkness and despair, those who find themselves with little barrier between the soul and the cold.
Christ is only good news to a soul in sorrow.
To the happy and healthy, the wise and wealthy: it will be hard for you to see Christ today. Maybe tomorrow. For now, Christ is not good news, rather he is an ill omen portending the eventual loss of all you hold so tightly.
But to the one who has fallen through the cracks of life, and has filtered to the bottom somehow, to hear of Christ is like hearing of reconstruction in the midst of ruin, of new life birthing as death eclipses all hopes.
Christ is the rebirth, regeneration, and finally resurrection that all hearts need, or soon will.
Therefore, remember the lowly around you; that they too once walked in sunlight, and their life was not always haunted by shadows. Reach out to them as if to yourself, for they are you and you them.
This Christmas, allow Christ to be born in your hearts, not merely venerated in your mind or by your words.