Christmas Letter 2016

Dear friends of St. Stephen’s,

He is near!

My favorite daily devotional guide has long been the classic “My Utmost for His Highest,” by Oswald Chambers. In his devotional reflection for December 25th, Chambers describes how Jesus Christ comes to us, personally, just as he comes to us in history: from the outside.

“Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not evolve out of history; He came into history from the outside…. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate, God coming into human flesh, coming into it from outside.”

We humans have a tendency to resist the outsider, whether it be a person from another family, another culture, or God, Himself. Thankfully, God does not relent. The baby Jesus was born against the odds, in a harsh environment, and under a ruler who sought to have him killed.

This Christmas, as the baby Jesus is born into our lives, here and now, what will be the conditions he will face? Will he encounter peace and welcome, or chaos and resistance? In my life, undoubtedly a little of both. I will do my best, as I do every year, to enter into this time in a contemplative frame of mind. Taking time to pray, reflect and give thanks each day. I will seek to communicate to those around me the love I have for them. But there are always moments when the busyness gets to me, and I become short tempered when I’m trying to prepare for the King’s arrival, and instead send Jesus packing.

Thankfully, God does not relent. He accommodates to us, where we are. This accommodation is a kind of incarnation, a kind of taking-on of flesh. The moment when the outsider becomes the insider. And through this taking on of our flesh, our acceptance, our forgiveness, that we find the courage to ask for the forgiveness of those around us who suffer when we are not at our best. To make amends to those people near and far who have suffered as a result of our actions, and as a result of our inactions. To make the outsider an insider. It is in this moment that Jesus Christ becomes an insider to us.

This Christmas, may we welcome all those whom we have put on the outside. In doing so, we will be welcoming the Lord, Himself.

In Jesus’ name,

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