The celebration of Christmas contains so much beauty. Touching scenes of the Nativity. Bright and cheerfully lit Christmas trees. Music that moves our hearts. Delectable Christmas treats. The excitement of giving and receiving gifts. Inspirational Scripture readings about people who once walked in darkness seeing a great light. A divine child born to a young mother full of grace. Peace on earth to people of good will.
The story before Christmas was not so beautiful. It was about a humanity in pain and turmoil. Human beings were turning against each other and themselves, causing tremendous hurt. Humanity’s sinfulness was prevailing over its goodness. God’s precious human beings were in need of redemption. In a wonderful act of unconditional love, God became flesh and blood in the person of Jesus Christ. Through his incarnation, God’s son now shared the common ground of our humanity. Sacrificing his very life and then victorious over sin and death, our humanity could now be restored to its original goodness. Jesus, born of Mary, shared the common ground of our humanity in order to lead us back to our common ground with each other.
We have wandered so far away from our common humanity. Conflicts and war have raged across the globe. Politics have become more about winning elections than serving the common good. Prejudice and racism have torn apart the fabric of our society. Respect for the dignity of human life has eroded. We cannot even agree on the ways to safeguard each other’s health during the pandemic.
Christmas invites us to rediscover our common ground as human beings. It is a time, as challenging as it may be, to think about the people with whom we are angry. Who is frustrating us and maybe even hurting us? Who are we holding with contempt in our hearts? As we think about these people, now comes the really hard part. What do we share in common with them? Maybe they are hurting as much as we are or are as afraid of the future as we might be. Maybe they have dreams for the future and hopes for something better like we do. The truth is, we all cry tears and laugh laughs. We feel feelings, sometimes wonderful, other times terrible. We get sick and yearn for healing.
Jesus took on the common ground of our humanity to help us find our common ground again with him and each other. With all the beauty that surrounds it, Christmas is really only beautiful if finding that common ground happens. How about it?
A blessed Christmas to all,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector