United in the Love of Christ
Christopher B. Harbin
It is a simple thing to gather around a Christmas tree. It is simple to hold hands to sing a Christmas carol. It is something of meager importance for us to spend some time together attending a special presentation by our children at the end of the year at a school or in church. It is a little thing to throw a party at which we give each other gifts and enjoy special foods of the season. It may be no more than one more obligation for us to show up to a Christmas celebration among the company employees. It is quite another thing to live truly united in a love that is real. Is it possible that the love of Christ, expressed in his birth some 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, can unite in a way that makes a difference to our way of living?
This is the season when we think of Jesus' birth and the celebrations surrounding it. We think of trees, decorations, snow, presents, Santa Claus, reindeer, and even a child in the manger of Bethlehem, but we reflect very little more deeply than that. It is well possible that we return to recount the story of the first Christmas. It is likewise possible that our reflection is limited to repeating those events with no further thought about them. We should think about the fact that on that first Christmas God came to be among us. Jesus came with the full understanding that he was come to die as a result of our violent response to his offering of love and grace. Yes, we recognize the scene of love in our portraits of Bethlehem, but keep them isolated from the cost to God that such an arrival was. Already in the manger of Bethlehem God's love was walking toward a cross with all its cruel rejection, violence, and pain. Fully aware of what was to come, God was born in a demonstration of his great love. He offered himself for us. He entrusted himself to our care.
Christmas is a magnificent portrait of love. We see there in the manger of Bethlehem a new ...
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