The Meanings of Christmas 2001

for the week of December 24, 2001
by Rubel Shelly

Christmas is here, and we remember that the Babe of Bethlehem . . .
humbled himself that all of us might be exalted,
emptied himself that we might be filled, and
embraced poverty that we might experience heaven's riches.
Christmas has come again, and we are reminded that Emmanuel . . .
entered our darkness in order to bring us into his true light,
was born to our flesh in order to endow us with his Spirit, and
endured human rejection in order to bequeath divine acceptance.
Christmas is upon us now, and we are called in our time and place . . .
to sing praise with the angels as a means of pointing others to Jesus,
to bow low with shepherds as prelude to exaltation with his saints, and
to bring gifts with the Magi as gratitude for what the Child brought us.
Christmas is here, and we are distracted by the terror of 9/11 . . .
mourning the assault but cheering heroic servants and comforters,
distraught about war but determined both to punish and deter evil, and
honoring the dead but committed to the resumption of life without fear.
Christmas has come again, and there is renewed meaning this year to . . .
seeing the possibilities for friendship in every stranger's face,
offering forgiveness to those from whom we have been estranged, and
affirming the power of love to conquer treachery, hatred, and terror.
Christmas is upon us now, and we are called in our time and place . . .
to affirm patriotism without sinking to fanatical nationalism,
to experience unity without confusing it with mindless conformity, and
to look to the future without forgetting all that is now our past.
Christmas is here, and we celebrate the truth that God-in-the-flesh has . . .
descended to our estate that we might ascend to his,
learned obedience that he might teach us of redemption, and
died that we might live.

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