Hope is Born. Life Awaits.
And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.”
- Matthew 11:4-6
He came first as a Baby. Really, before He was a Baby, the eternal Son of God settled as a tiny Being deep within the frame of the Virgin. The Spirit overshadowed Mary. Life caught within her, and God began His created experience at the moment of conception. The Life Mary carried transformed her womb into the cradle of salvation for the world. The mother of all living no longer is the fallen Eve, banished from the paradise of communion with God. The new life Mary birthed was the infinite Life of God united with her own finite life, and our Savior began sanctifying human life and experience, restoring the true humanity instilled in our creation and lost to pride and arrogance so long ago.
The Word that called the whole of creation into being, Who spoke and brought forth everything from nothing, sanctified – made holy – nursing at His mother’s breast, learning to crawl, taking His first tenuous steps and toppling in the dirt. This is our God, Whose voice flung galaxies across the heavens, Whose mind wove together the tiniest particles of life in innumerable forms.
He came as a child on the cusp of manhood, questioning and teaching the teachers in the Temple, speaking with the authority of His Father. What an enigma He must have been to them – so knowledgeable and wise as He spoke, traits wholly unexpected from a carpenter’s Son. He sanctified the growing boy, made holy the transformation to manhood, redeeming gawky adolescence with the vestments of divine Spirit and Truth.
He came to the river to be baptized by John, the cousin who knew Him while both were yet unborn. The God Who established the waters of the earth was lowered into the Jordan River, thus inaugurating the cleansing of the waters of creation, sanctifying them by His Divine touch in the mortal washing of sins He had never committed.
He came to the desert to face the devil and his temptations. He came to the synagogue to teach. He came to the towns and villages to give sight to the blind, strength and movement to the lame, to cleanse lepers, to restore hearing to the deaf, to raise the dead, and to preach good news to the poor. What sin and death had turned upside down, He turned right-side up to reflect the glory He intended when He created.
He came to the Temple to purge religiosity and religious profit and to re-establish His Father’s house for communion with God in worship and prayer. He came with the religious leaders for a false trial, then He came to Herod and Pilate and bore the judgment of mortals. He came to the Cross, charged for sins He did not commit, crucified by those He wanted to save, and abandoned by those He had already named as His own.
And then, He came out of the tomb of destroyed death – alive with the eternal and infinite life that had always been His.
This is the Savior Who comes determinedly and relentlessly to seek and find every human being. He comes purifying and sanctifying everything we have sullied and disgraced with our sin. He comes to destroy our idols and to give us life, to make us holy and virtuous by restoring all that we are created to be. He comes to make us like Him, fully alive by His Spirit, abiding in His love, filled with His joy.
All that is human has been raised by Him, sanctified by Mary’s Son, the Incarnate God in the flesh. No moment of human life is beyond hope, no sorrow the final word, no hate the winner. Life beyond measure, immortal and blessed, awaits every human soul, rejecting none and available to all. This is the God Who entered the world as a Baby, the Birth we celebrate each year.
The Incarnation of God is the necessary condition for our salvation. If God did not become man, then human beings are not saved. Yet, in Mary’s Child, the human condition is reversed, overcome, transformed by the Divine Life of God’s Child. The whole of human life was and is redeemed and restored, even raised in Christ to Life beyond life. We worship the Baby, yes, but we worship the God Who loved so much He chose to be born in human raiment, the God Who would raise humanity to heights unknown and unachievable by every human standard.
How incomprehensible is the mind of God to choose such frailty; how vast and immeasurable is the love of God to choose such weakness to redeem the likes of you and me? One day, one stage, one year at a time, the whole of human life was cleansed, purified, redeemed, and renewed as the Divine Creator, the Son of God, embraced human life in the Son of Mary. The unfathomable mystery of Incarnation silences the chaos of pretension and draws us into worship as everything fades before the reality of what God has done – what God continues to do in everyone who turns to Him.
Throughout this season, we listen to carols and songs celebrating our Lord’s birth. As He surely came to us, it is now our turn to come to Him. From the Christmas hymn, O Come, All Ye Faithful:
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem!
Come, and behold Him, born the King of angels!
O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord!
He came to us to restore us to life in Him, and He continues to call us to Himself. Today, the hymn invites us to move toward the Christ Child, the Child Who came bringing our salvation. This is the only true hope the world has, but He is all the hope the world needs. “Come!”
Come, bring the burdens you carry. Come with the insufficiency that haunts you, with the embarrassment of your failures. Come with brokenness of body and mind. Come with eyes that cannot see. Come with your disappointments, your sorrows, your losses. Come, offer your shame and guilt, the festering wounds of your soul. Come, bring the deaths that broke your spirit. Come in need of hope, captured by your fears. Just come! Draw near to Him and share in His joy and triumph.
On this holiest of nights, our God entered inconspicuously into human history and began to reclaim His creatures, His creation, for His own. His actions, His love, His determination, His mercy, all are too much to express. The fifth century liturgy of St. James reveals the descent of God to Man in this manner: Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way, as the Light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day, that the pow'rs of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.* One angelic rank after another, the host of heaven descends and spreads across the earth to make way for the Light of light to come into the world. Throughout our world, permeating every time and space, the host of heaven hold wide the gate through which Uncreated Light shines into the darkness, dispelling and defeating the powers of hell that threaten to overwhelm us.
Come. Come to worship the King of kings, the Babe in the manger, the Light that is the life of all people. The Savior is come, and hope and life are ours for the asking.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau
* Translated into English in the 19th century by Gerard Moultrie.