Christmas Two Thousands Years Later and Grace Is Still New


“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  (The Summer Day, Mary Oliver)

We are in the midst of something new and something old.  Hundreds of years have passed since the birth of Christ and yet we have never before been in this place, at this time, with these graces being offered.  What will we do with it all?

Never again will I be right where I am right now.  A part of me rejoices that this current life will not always be my lot because I eagerly look forward to the future.  I want my life to change and be different than it is now.  Life is good in many ways, but I frequently find myself desiring to get to “the next step.”  Yet in some future day, I may look back at right now and realize only then all that was good about this time.  I do not want it to be that way–I want to, right now, recognize the blessings of this moment, subtle though they may seem to my slow heart.

“Behold, I Am Doing Something New”

How is Christ being born into my life this day?  How is He striving to shake up the world I’ve known for twenty-something years and say, “Behold, I am doing something new”?  The graces He offers me today are not the same graces offered yesterday or the day before.  They are always new.  Jesus doesn’t offer left-overs but, rather, He offers what is most fitting for the moment.  He only ever offers the best to us.  If it feels the same as yesterday, it is because I must be striving to live a new day with old graces.

In a special way, Christ is offering the gift of His birth.  I cannot go to Bethlehem and see the birth of Jesus but I can experience His birth in my life.  The Bible itself proclaims that Scripture is living and effective.  It is not a nice story from hundreds of years ago, but rather it is a living reality now.  Christ, the Word was born into the world and dwelt among us.  Yet He still dwells among us.  Looking at the nativity story, we can be led to ponder how we can find ourselves in each person.  How am I the innkeeper, refusing a room to Jesus?  How am I a shepherd, kneeling before a king, yet uncertain of what He is asking of me?  How am I St. Joseph, following the promptings of the Lord when He speaks to me?  How am I the wise man, leaving home in search of a king for my life?  

The Nativity is Present Today

The Nativity of Our Lord is not simply a story we fondly recall.  It is not something we glance at once a year and then open presents.  It is present day after day in the ways that the Lord desires to be born anew into our world.  His birth is a reality that we must seek out in our lives and in the circumstances that surround us.  How can we see the birth of Jesus lived out in the flight of refugees?  How can we see His birth in discord within family and friends?  How is He desiring to be born into our workplaces and our government buildings?  If we isolate Christmas, then we rob it of the transformative power it should have.

For hundreds of years, the Jews hoped for and prayed for the coming of the Messiah.  He came in Bethlehem nearly 2,000 years ago.  That was a time for great rejoicing because the long hoped for promise was fulfilled.  But He desires to be born into the world every day through each one of us.  More than a single day, Christmas is the lived experience of God entering into our world and encountering us in our every need.

We find ourselves, once again, in the midst of the Christmas season, something old and yet something very new.  What will we do with these newly offered graces?  What will we do with this day?  What will we do with the gift of the one life we have been given?  How can our “Yes” today give birth to Christ in the life of someone who may not know Him?

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