Divine descent

Daily Reading for December 24 • The Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The “good news of great joy” of which the angels sang is that God is not aloof or remote. In that single word, Immanuel, resides the essence of what Christians believe happened at the birth of Jesus. In a divine descent, God entered our world to embrace and show us pure love. Therefore, regardless of whether we feel God’s presence or not, God is near. We don’t climb our way to heaven or to God, but rather God comes down to us, moving among and within us, making our ordinary lives extraordinary by his presence. My own favorite Christmas verse, filled with depth of imagery and beautiful cadence, comes from the deuterocanonical book The Wisdom of Solomon: “When all things lay in peace and silence, and night was in the midst of her swift course, God’s Almighty Word leapt down from Heaven, out of His Royal Throne” (18:14–15, KJV).

Today it is commonly rumored that a popular king in one of the Arab countries often “disappears” and walks incognito among his people. Asked by his security detail and members of his parliament not to do so, out of concern for his safety, he responds, “How do you expect me to properly assist my people unless I know how they live?” . . .

The Christmas story is about God’s commitment to us. Christmas is not our show, it is God’s. Christmas is a divine initiative, when God establishes a tangible relationship of love which Jesus represents. The secret to understanding the angels’ song, and therefore really the secret of Christmas, is that it isn’t about giving to God, but rather it is about receiving God most fully into our lives. The only one giving in this story is God. We have only to receive this holy miracle that breaks into the night, even in the darkest nights of our lives. God is the central character of this Christmas story, and therefore in all our stories.

From Songs in Waiting: Spiritual Reflections on the Middle Eastern Songs Surrounding Christ’s Birth by Paul-Gordon Chandler. Copyright © 2009. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY. www.churchpublishing.org

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