Here is another in our ongoing series of teachings by Father Al Durrance.
|How Do We Celebrate?
We may begin with the reading of the Gospel stories. There we find Him waiting for us, incarnate in the words of men. We look through the words as we seek the Living Word, as He said, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that I might give you life” (John 5:39).
We then seek the Bread of Life at the altar where we gather to meet Him incarnate in the Bread and Wine as He comes wrapped as a gift to give us His Life. We come that we might dwell in Him and that He might dwell in us. We come that we might become the new wrapping in which the Son of God will present Himself to those who do not yet know Him.
We become His presence in the world for which He died. We become the Body in which He dwells to make Himself known in the community that He raises up among those who are willing to lay down their own lives and take up the New Life that He gives us.
We share His presence with all who are coming to seek and find the New Life in the New Creation, and we find that He is here. The King is not a tyrant after all. He is a gentle and loving Lord who does not compel us to come into the kingdom. He invites us into the Kingdom and enables us to enter and reign with Him in a Kingdom which is at hand now. That is the way we are to celebrate Christmas, by giving Him room within and sharing Him with the world for which He died.
|How Do We Do Christmas?
One election year, I found that I was face to face with Christmas preparation, and I had almost missed Advent, which marks the beginning of the Christmas Season. I began to wonder about how I may celebrate Christmas that focuses on the holiday and not on the chaos with which many surround themselves with. This begs the question:
How does my buying gifts for the people who are going to buy me gifts express the Spirit of the One who has come into the world? How can the parties that fill up the time on my calendar express the Spirit of the Christ Mass?
How can the exhaustion that mark those who agonize over what to buy each person on their list express the Spirit of Christmas? Does buying gifts for others fulfill the true meaning of Christmas?
Or it is God “buying” for us what we cannot find for ourselves at any price in any store, and by doing so, we are given the perfect example of how me might participate in the season of Christmas.
If we can see that God has paid for a present that is given to the entire world, and one that we cannot afford, nor reciprocate by cash or credit. We are still able to reciprocate. He has given us the Life of His Son, that we might give Him our lives in return. There is an obvious inequity in the exchange.
He has given me more than I could ever afford, and I have given Him what He wanted when I made room for Jesus to be incarnate within my flesh. That must be the way He intends for me to celebrate Christmas in my own life.
|In the Asking, the Answer Becomes Clear.
The frustration I was feeling when I finally found the time to be still and ask God, “Lord, what is the proper way to celebrate Christmas? How can I escape the chaos in December and please you in what I seek to do?”
The answer came quite clearly to my mind: “You are to go to the altar and receive the gift I have given you for Christmas. When I first gave the gift 2000 years ago, I wrapped Him in the flesh of His mother, Mary, so that He might be born human. When He was born, she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and gave him to the shepherds and to the Magi, and all those present who would receive Him.
When He grew up and began to teach humans about the Kingdom, He made it clear that He was the King. He was not a King in the traditional sense of the word, which confused Herod. He was the King in the Kingdom that was prepared before the foundation of the world.
God fulfilled the need for opening the way for humans to enter the Kingdom. It necessitated a New Creation in which the Sin and evil of the world was left behind in the Old Creation. We need a place where there is no Sin, and no need for a Law to be imposed. It is to be written on the inward parts of those who choose to accept the Gift that God has given to all of us.
It also necessitated a Cross. God chose the fullness of time, and the best of the ways in which He could accomplish His will to Create all things New in Him. Christ is God’s love wrapped in human vesture. Christ is God’s presence in the midst of His people. He who knows Him knows God. Christ is a visible image of the King.
This gift, wrapped in human form, was essential for those who would come after His Ascension. There is no way into the New Creation except through death and resurrection. Old things are to pass away, the New is beginning, and will be eternal. The Gift God gives us is still wrapped in a number of wrappers that He continue to use.
When Christ was preparing to leave the disciples, He made provision for them to know Him and to know His presence in the world. The kingdom is at hand, and the Bread of the Kingdom had been prepared by His hands. The Bread of Heaven was given as he gave His flesh for the sins of the world.
One way we may receive God’s gift is wrapped in the flesh of Bread and Wine as Christ comes to give His life to you as He promised He would. He said to his disciples, “This is My Body. This is My Blood. This is the way I come to you to give you my life. Come bring Me your life, that I might live in you, and you might live in me. This is the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, that you might become bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
“Come and let me wrap Myself in your flesh. Come and give me access to your life that I might make you mine. Come and let me make you the wrapping of the gift of My Life that I choose to give to the world. I have been received many times, and I have always made Myself known through the one who gives me his heart in which to dwell.”
We are to celebrate Christmas by becoming the presence of His love in human vesture. We are to live out the Life of His Father’s love that others might see and seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. With this, the answer becomes clear…