Nativity of Christ
7 January 1984
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Having met the secular New Year, within it, within its first fortnight we keep a feast which is the beginning of new times. The Lord who has said, ‘Lo, I make all things new’ has come Himself into the world. And this world is no longer the same: God is with us. He is in our midst, and not only in a spiritual manner – He has become one of us, one of us men, and through the body of His Incarnation He has become the kin of all the material world. All the cosmos rejoices in the Incarnation because this world, material, tangible, visible which was created in the beginning is now akin to the incarnate Son of God. We live in a world that did not exist before, and yet, we have made of this world something so sad. Ezekiel in his prophecy said: ‘They speak of peace, of peace and there is no peace in them... We hear of agony and of terror, n o t of peace: where is this peace?..’ And in the same chapter (...) he says, ‘The day w i l l come when they will reverence and worship the Lord, and then peace will come. And the Prince of Peace, the Son of God become a son of man was greeted by the choirs of angels who proclaimed this feasts ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace; good will towards men.’
And we are the people who have h e a r d this message, we are Christ's people, we are called by His name – isn't it a wonder to be called by the name of God become man? And to be sent into the world from generation to generation, from century to century to be His living presence and His witnesses to proclaim that the world is new, that at the core of the world in which we live, however dark it appears to us, there is light, the light of God, there is love – God's own love, there is purity and perfection – Christ as a man who shows us what a perfection of a created being can be; the beauty, the harmony, the oneness with God and the givenness to men.
And it is our privilege to belong to Him; He is not ashamed of calling us His brothers, His sisters; He accepts us as one that belongs together with Him. The love of God in its perfection and beauty, in its frailty, vulnerable and yet insuperable is now in the world. The Old Testament spoke of love and said, ‘Love is as strong as death,’ death cannot overcome love. We know now that it is much more than the kind of victory which the Old Testament knew: tenderness, memory – there is something more. Christ could die, at the hour of death praying for His, tormentors, saying ‘Father, they don't know what they do!..’ And by these words He annihilated the power of evil, the power of hatred; by these words He showed a new victory of love and in His resurrection a victory over death itself. And we are the people, to whom He has committed the charge to proclaim not only in words, but so to belong to the world of God, so to belong to eternity that people meeting us should meet eternity, should meet life, should meat new creatures, newness in a world that looks so old and (?). We are like the spring at the heart of winter, we are like light in the darkness. Do we realise this? Do we realise the miracle, the wonder which the Church is? Not the building, not even the liturgy, but the people of God who are so united to Him who came into our midst that we are His presence. A Christian is one whom God has put in charge of His world; shall we not (?) discharge this commission? Shall we not be light and warmth, and joy, and hope, and the revelation of eternity and of beauty? And we can do it, it is enough for us to listen to what the Lord says in His Gospel, to try to find our harmony with Him, and as our harmony with Him grows, then also His presence in the world will grow.
Let us begin t o d a y, on the day when God came into the world, accepting all our limitations; let us try to grow to the full measure which He had offered and made possible for us... A western saint said, ‘I am as great as God, He is as small as I.’ In His Incarnation He has chosen to be one of us so that we could be like Him. Let us in faith, in hope, in love, in joy, with greatness of heart, with daring attempt to do what is possible for us, because the power of God is made manifest in weakness, and it is Saint Paul who knew too well his own weakness, said, ‘All things are possible unto me in the power of Christ that sustains me.’ Amen.