In joy and terror the Word is born!Posted 5 January 2011 by Bob Chapman
This is a look back at Christmas before moving on. Actually, it is a reflection based on the words of a hymn for Advent.
What is the crying at Jordan?
Who hears, O God, the prophecy?
Dark is the season,
Dark our hearts and shut to mystery.—Carol Christopher Drake,
first verse of Hymn 69
in the Hymnal 1982
It is popular by some to say that Christmas is all about children, family, and warm feelings. It is not that I am against children, family, and warm feelings, but is that what Christmas is about?
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the time around the Winter Solstice is not a time of warmth and light. You may enjoy winter sports, but that is because you wear specially designed clothing for the cold, expect a warm place to go when finished, and top everything off with hot food and drink.
We do everything we can to hide our eyes from what this time of year has to say to us. Baby, it is cold outside.
It is nice to find a way to make winter more comfortable with warm feelings. But, you do not need Christmas to have warm feelings.
You do not need Christmas to justify winter parties. Scotland celeberates Hogmanay at the start of the New Year. While each town and region has its own traditions for the celebration, Hogmanay is the winter celebration in Scotland—not Christmas. These celebrations can be traced to Norse, Gaelic, French, and even ancient Roman celebrations.
There is no need to invoke Christ to be able to hold a winter party. Just do it.
I am not saying Jesus Christ is against parties. Actually, Jesus was condemned for liking parties. Of course, John the Baptist was condemned for not liking parties. Sometimes you cannot win for losing. Holding a party is not an issue.
Now comes the day of salvation,
in joy and terror the Word is born!
God gives himself into our lives;
O let salvation dawn!—Carol Christopher Drake,
last verse of Hymn 69
in the Hymnal 1982
I do not pretend to be able to understand the totality of what happened that evening when Jesus was born. There is a difference between knowing that union of the human and devine natures in Jesus is the Hypostatic union and understanding what the Hypostatic union is and how it affects my life. But, whatever it is, that is what was born at Christmas. And, what was born at Christmas makes all the difference in my life.
If you still want one, this is a good reason to have a winter party. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.