One Christmas Eve, after placing a small figure of baby Jesus in its resin manger at our house, my then 4 or 5-year-old nephew asked, “But… is he… alive?” So much was said in his look of perplexity and disbelief – If Christmas is Jesus’s birthday, then where is he? Shouldn’t he be growing up by now? Also… if he was born 2000 years ago… then, maybe he should be dead – right? Then why do we act like he’s a little newborn baby? What is this weirdness???
Of course, there is something to be said about the Eternal Now, as well as our preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord – but that something is said in other places, I’m sure, with more scholarly expertise. What I want to reflect upon in this post is the beauty and power of the newness of our celebrations – every single year.
The Downs and Ups of Christian Life
A new blogging comrade shared a story from one of our favorite blogs, Glory to God in All Things. It goes like this: An old monk was asked what monks do all day in a monastery. He replied, “We fall down, and then we get up. We fall down. We get up,” and so on, as my fellow blogger commented, “until probably the questioner left, either enlightened or totally confused.”
This is Christianity. It is the way of the cross walked with Jesus, falling beneath the weight of sin and then pulling ourselves back up, or being helped back up by friends or strangers. It’s the struggle of everyday life – and the great joy, as well, when it is lived with love.
Recently, I experienced my own fall – once again – and the subsequent struggle to rise up. When I persist in selfishness and willfully block divine love and grace from my decisions, I end up feeling cheated, stupid, exasperated in my sense of disappointment and even self-loathing. The feeling is of being in a dark, lonely, and, well, yucky kind of pit. That is no place that I want to stay.
It isn’t easy to be pulled out of the mire, to have that skin of mud sloughed off and get washed clean. It isn’t easy to look up from cramped self-indulgence, from self-isolating meanness, to the glory that is God. But, this is what God desires us to do.
God is the light that shines in the darkness. God is the one pulling us up, washing us clean, calling our namesgorgeously so that we may be more fully and truly ourselves – more like Him. In the midst of our iniquities, it may seem impossible or even ridiculous that we are creatures of grace meant to walk in divine light. But, we are.
And we need to be reminded of this again and again – just as we are likely to fall again and again. Therefore, as we go round and round throughout our lives, in the cycle of days and the circle of the seasons, there must be points of impact, specific times of rousing and revitalization, when our eyes are jarred open and our minds and hearts fully awakened to receive the truth.
And be renewed by it.
The mercy of God is endless. When we fall into waywardness and selfishness, God saves us from despair. When we are truly repentant, we are truly forgiven. Most pointedly and poignantly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we become newly born – as innocent as we were as newly baptized babies. This is the amazing gift of God – the gift of Salvation, given to us so that every day, every moment, may be new. There is not even a mark set against us – for all is washed clean, all is made new, through Christ our Lord.
God doesn’t hold a grudge. God doesn’t hold back trust.
And so, we start again, fresh, continually.
Christmas Every Day
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. …And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”
Almighty God becomes a helpless infant – know the shock and be renewed by the immensity of this love. God came to meet His people in person – to become one of us. If your mind and heart is opened to wonder and awe, then the birth of Jesus never gets old.
Yes, we celebrate the historical events in the historical life of Jesus – however, he is not only an historical figure, but also the World Savior. Christ Jesus saves us from the monotony of days and years, the deaf, blind, crippled, and muddy life that is self-centered and ends only in death. Therefore, we celebrate each blessed event in the life of Jesus as though it is happening for the first time – because, for us who know God’s forgiveness, it is happening for the first time. It’s happening for the first time for us every time that we are pulled up out of the mire, every time that we are washed clean and able to begin again with God’s mercy and love to fill us and guide us.
Through the Eyes of a Child
I won’t be saying all of this to my little nephew, who is 11 now. What I would want to say to him is something like this… God makes all things new. What we may see as old, tired, or worn out through our earthly eyes in this life, God sees as beautiful, fresh, shiny and new. That’s because God refreshes everything and heals everything through His mercy – and we will see how truly bright, strong, and beautiful everything is when we see purely through the eyes of our soul in the life of the world to come.
“O, Beauty ever ancient, ever new…”.
© 2016 Christina Chase
 John 1:1-3, 14
 Saint Augustine