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A very merry and blessed Christmas to one and all!
What a marvelous, joyous, and wonderful season begins today on this feast of the Nativity of the Lord. How fortunate we are if we know anything of the meaning and power of this holy day.
The name Christmas–assuming it is used at all and not displaced by the vague and generic “holidays”–has largely been stripped of that meaning and power. What our society commonly refers to as “Christmas” has become a season which now begins even before Halloween and mostly involves spending money and decorating things. Many people in our society will be giving one last Christmas hurrah tomorrow with bargain-hunting in the stores; many others will be eagerly taking down the decorations, having begun to grow tired of them after a couple of months. At best, Christmas is a sentimental time, a holiday for children and family and feasting.
But today is the Nativity of the Lord. Think on that name for a moment: the Nativity of the Lord!
Today is when God was born into human history, human nature, human experience. He who created us and the entire universe from nothing, He who exists beyond all time and space in what we call Eternity, He who is revered by all the choirs of holy angels–it is His nativity on earth that we celebrate! He did not come down in all His great glory, attended by legions of the Heavenly Host. He did not appear as a mighty super-man. If He had, we certainly would not refer to this day as His nativity. No, He was born as creatures are born: as an infant. Small, helpless, thoroughly dependent on others for survival.
Never had such a thing ever happened or even been dreamed of before. Nor shall such a thing ever happen again in time and space. It was a singular event, the Nativity of the Lord. That alone should earn our respect and our amazement. But like a drop of water impacting a still body of water, His Nativity changed everything–changes everything–and forever will change everything! The mingling of the material and the divine, of history and eternity, of the finite and the infinite could not fail to change everything. The birth of God in the world gave new birth to everything. It elevated humanity and all creation to a previously unimagined dignity, while revealing in the almighty God a profound and previously unimagined humility.
Modern man may imagine that after more than two millennia, he is no longer affected by nor subject to that event. He rationalizes away the holy season of Christmas as nothing more than a modern-day Saturnalia or Yuletide. And so it has become! While that is not entirely a bad thing, that isn’t the depth or breadth or truth of it. While many modern men will be content to leave it at that and rush off toward the next big festival, the Christian can never be content with such a thing.
Instead, let us allow ourselves to dive deeply into the tremendous wonder of this holy season and be carried, transported, and transformed by it. Let us appreciate and give thanks for the incredible thing our Lord did for us in His Nativity. And let us not do so only today, but for the entire Christmas season: the Twelve Days of Christmas, the Epiphany, and up until the Baptism of the Lord–to my knowledge, this is what Catholics observe as the Christmas season. While the rest of the world gets back to business as usual, let us persevere in the joy and wonder of Christ’s birth.
I am no fan of modernism, post-modernism, or any of that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love modernity! I’m late 20th- and early-21st-century through and through! I’m sure there’s a reason God put me at this spot in the time line, and I aim to enjoy it and make the most of it!
As I was driving home from work today, it was a mostly-overcast evening, in that glorious twilight between light and dark. I live pretty close to Love Field, pretty much right underneath the landing pattern. As I slowly made my way home through traffic and stop lights, I watched a succession of jet liners emerge from the clouds, their white lights glittering brightly against the grey. It was really quite a wondrous thing.
For a moment, I allowed myself to be dazzled by this occurrence that can be so very everyday and mundane. I could imagine Monet painting such a scene if he and the Impressionist Movement were alive today. The clouds–sweeps of muted greys and violets–pierced by the white lights of the descending jet liners… the dim, overshadowing outline of Cityplace Tower or the AT&T building, with a mishmash of cars and red lights below. A beautiful picture!
And then I started laughing to myself. I was tickled to think about one of my ancestors from even just 100 years ago suddenly popping into this evening in 2008, and what on earth they would think if they saw those lights in the sky, soon to realize that the lights were attached to some giant, roaring, metal-bird-looking flying machine!
Or, for that matter, what they would think of sitting in my little Honda, zipping down the street at a dizzying velocity of 30 MPH! All while listening to music that they might recognize–with the sound of a full orchestra filling that tiny space!
It’s amazing, sometimes, what we take for granted.
I thank God for my life… my life here… my life now.
Related Post: Reflection on Timelessness