Living in the West, it’s easy to take Jesus for granted. Our calendar, names of the cities and states, basic freedoms and rights, the institutions I rely on (hospitals, medical care, etc.) all have their roots in the life of Jesus Christ and those who followed him. History was forever changed when he came to earth. His existence stares me in the face everyday, yet I can so easily miss his presence.
I think that’s why I like Christmas so much. It’s the time of year (regardless of whether or not people call Jesus “Lord”) when we more or less recognize his coming to earth. I remember as a child, gazing into the tiny private world of the family creche. There was Mary and Joseph peering over the vulnerable form of Jesus in the manger. The lamb and calf, the rough looking shepherds, the three wise men. The tall angel in the background and at the top of the creche, the bright star. It was the tiny drama surrounded by the busyness of our home. As a child, the mystery of the creche called out to my imagination. I would gaze at it for what seemed like hours and wonder what it all meant.
John’s record of Jesus’s prayer in chapter 17 works up the same kind of wonder in my mind today. What if Jesus’s words are really true? What if I really belong to God? What if the glory of Jesus really is worked out in my life? What if the Holy Spirit really lives within me? What if this word that I read does sanctify me? What if?
The truth is that those all those “what ifs” really are “what is’s.” More than often, I am just too busy to stop and let my imagination soak in the reality of truth that is alive and well. What does this miracle of Emanuel, God-with-us mean to the moment by moment, day to day workings of this life? Christmas is the invitation to pull up the chair, gaze into the creche and with childlike faith, wonder at the truth God wants to work in our human lives.