The whole idea that God took on flesh, came to us and lived among us, has challenged the human ability to understand and comprehend since that first Christmas. There are all kinds of questions and few, if any, answers. Answers that give us a thorough explanation of the details of how the creator of human beings becomes a human are not forthcoming. Mystery is the word that the church has often used through the centuries to explain that which is beyond explanation. That is what we say when we don’t know anything else to say. Granted, it is no small thing to be able to look into the pages of scripture, the annals of history, or the faces of the living, and utter a single word in response to the unbelievable, the incredible or even, the unthinkable.
Faith is the gift that enables us to believe what we would not otherwise believe or consider. It gently nudges us beyond the questions of how to look at why God did what God did. John’s gospel tells us that it is love that moved God to come into our world with flesh and bone. God loves us enough to come to where we live and experience life as we experience it. Faith gives us the ability to know that we are loved and accepted by God.
What we should not allow faith to do is to distort the reality in which we still live. God takes on flesh and comes to us at Christmas time. God does not come and get us to remove us from where we are now — not yet anyway. Faith is not an escape hatch from the world in which we live. It is, however, refusing to believe that the world in which we live is the sum of our living.
Because Christ has been born, when we hear of a tragic death of a neighbor, we can say even still, Christ is coming. Because Bethlehem has happened, when we see that someone has had to spend the night in a car in our parking lot we can say even still, Christ is coming. Because the one who would be our Savior was wrapped in swaddling clothes when we continue to see the poor and needy at our door, we can say even still, Christ is coming. Because the Prince of Peace slept in a manger when distant wars are brought near by the deployment of a friend or family member, we can say even still, Christ is coming. Because Mary and Joseph did not turn away from God’s call, when we experience the stress, the strain and sometimes the brokenness of human relationships, we can say even still, Christ is coming.
We can and do say it, not as sugar coating or denial, but as a truth born from the gift of faith. Christ comes to the place of pain and suffering, misery and malaise, and of betrayal and disappointment. He comes to us. In coming, he calls us to himself. The call is such that somehow we become a part of the mystery of his incarnation. We become his hands, his feet, his body. Led by his Spirit, we find our greatest joy in following his path to the places where there is hurting and want, injustice and wrong. Far from taking us away from the trial of earth-bound living, his coming to us points our lives in the direction of those who are broken by sin and sinned against, those who are left out, and left alone.
Christ is coming!