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Written by Fr Bryce Sangster
It has been said that Christmas is for children. Jesus coming as a newborn child gives us the notion of vulnerability. Why would the son of God make himself vulnerable to us as fallible humans, and not come in power and strength?
That’s the gift of trust and relationship God wants with us.
But it is also about us getting in touch with the child in all of us. This seems to mean letting go of the cares and responsibilities of our lives and living in the moment. It brings to mind a definition of a saint; one who has one foot in the world of the now and enjoying the present and one foot striving for the possibility of a better world for us all. There is a time and place for both and discernment to know when to focus on which foot.
I realize that I tend to stand on the foot that strives for a better world, and keep asking myself why come January, is the joy and peace gone away and does not last? And what I really need to do is stand more firmly on the foot that enjoys living in the present and enjoy the peace and joy of Christmas for as long as it lasts and not be concerned that it goes away in January.
Just like Peter cannot stay up on the mountain after the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2–9, Luke 9:28–37) I cannot make Christmas last longer than it does. But just like the mountain top experience can give us the strength and hope to continue down the mountain to our everyday lives, Christmas can do the same thing if we live in the present and get in touch with the child within.
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings[b] here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
At the time of writing, there is question as to how and if we can celebrate Christmas with family who are not living under the same roof. So is this the Christmas to think about living in the present?
The banquet of the Christmas meal can still take place but in smaller numbers and still be a special meal. And even in this difficult time, there is a cliché which seems appropriate. Is the glass half full or half empty? If you are like me, at this time the glass feels half empty. But getting in touch with the child within and living in the present means at Christmas and for that moment putting aside our fears and concerns and seeing that the glass is also half full.
All the blessings of Christmas to you and yours, now and forever more.