Christmas Hope: Son of God - Child of Mary

In the days leading up to the feast of Christmas, the daily Gospels focus on the young girl who was to become the mother of God. They speak of how  Mary's dreams for her life were shattered in an instant by the visit of an angel. Marys' story reminds us that the shattering of our vision of life - the disappointments, the heartbreaks, rejection, loneliness, confusion - all of these things are part of the preparation for a greater calling. Mary's story is our story. Like Mary, our own personal history becomes sacred history.

annunciation maryMary's presence throughout the Advent experience makes our fears and anguish comprehensible. The uncertainty of life is overcome by the sure hope of God's coming to those who are waiting. The angel makes the announcement, Mary accepts, and then, we are told, "the angel left her." No guidance is given. Questions are left unanswered and we can assume that Mary is more confused than ever.

And yet Mary comes to symbolize God's coming into our hearts with his transforming presence. Longing for the light eventually brings the light. Faith opens into trust, and trust is not disappointed because the love of God is poured forth in the hearts of the brokenhearted.  Certainly news of hope!

This is the "good news" announced by the angel.  This is the good news she brought to Elizabeth and which filled her spirit with joy, enabling her to proclaim the greatness of the Lord.

Like Mary, we come to the feast of Christmas asking: Who is this child for us?

And her answer is ours. Christmas touches us deeply because there is innocence here, as there is with every baby born into this world. There are parental hopes and dreams. There is the wonder of God at work in our midst. There is appreciation for the way this Child will reveal God's active and loving presence. There is hope here for all of us to share. We again retell this story with the conviction that His Spirit is active everywhere and that because of this Child, God's revelation is not confined to this place, this event, or this time in history.

The work of Advent is for us to discover the Christ who is truly among us. The work of Christmas is to mirror the life of Christ in our own.

We celebrate Christmas not just as a past event but a present reality. We are called to continue the presence and the mission of Jesus in our world, to bring His love and forgiveness to our relationships,  to bring His patience and courage to our sufferings and trials, to bring His compassion to the poor and the hungry and the homeless and to bring His total trust in God the Father to the dark moments when we feel abandoned or overwhelmed.

These are the challenges that can enable us to bring Christmas to completion.  So, let us continue this work of Christmas each day of the approaching New Year. Let us be God's holy people, and let us be the hopeful light in the darkness, the peacemakers and life-givers in every aspect of our lives.

My prayers for you and your families throughout this special Christmas season and all throughout your journey of faith. Together we rejoice in our God, who shares in our humanity, who calls us to Himself, who brings us a different kind of Peace.

"When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart."
- Howard Thurman

*** Painting - The Annunciation by James Christensen