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NCC Christmas Message 2003
“Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10b-12, NRSV)
Among the many striking aspects of the Christmas story is that God chose to be revealed as a baby. Over the centuries, Christian teachers and thinkers have engaged the idea of the power of God as revealed in the vulnerability of a newborn. The fullness of the divine is revealed in the utter poverty of a child who experiences his first moments of human life in the humility of an animal shelter.
Consider what that meant for the others in the stable. What love and nurturing would be required of Mary and Joseph to ensure that this infant grows to adulthood? What wisdom and humility would be needed by the kings to perceive this baby’s destiny? What faith and courage would be asked of the shepherds to accept this child as their Savior? What awe and praise would be required of the angels to proclaim peace at what could only be a moment of bewilderment?
What does this story mean for us as we celebrate Christmas in 2003? As members of Christ’s one Church, as inheritors of the call to bear the message of the Word of God in the world, what is required of us?
This Christmas more than 12 million U.S. children live in poverty. Every 60 seconds another child is born into poverty in our nation. Globally, the number of hungry children and families is on the rise, undermining progress against hunger made in the early 1990s. Have we done enough to nurture our young people?
This year we have seen the environment threatened by an over reliance on dirty fossil fuel and neglect of clean, renewable energy sources. What does this say about how we perceive our stewardship of the gift of the earth that we return to God as creator of all?
This year we have seen an increase in violent rhetoric by some religious leaders toward those of other faiths. What does this say about the way we live out our faith in the name of the Savior born in a manger?
This year we have seen war and all manner of violence undertaken in the name of self-styled definitions of goodness. Have we done enough to proclaim the Gospel of the Prince of Peace?
Christmas is the Season of good will. May we turn our joyous year-end sentiments into acts of good will that truly demonstrate the love, humility, and peace of the Christ who lives in our hearts.