Today is the twelfth and final day of the Christmas season. When you add the four weeks of Advent to the twelve days of Christmas, and then tack on all the pre-Advent weeks of Christmas decorations, music and commercials, Christmas seems to last forever these days. I hope it has been a joyful and blessed season for you and before we officially leave it I’d like to pause one more time to consider the significance of the Incarnation.
In today’s “Daily Meditation” by Richard Rohr he makes the claim that Christmas for many is an even bigger celebration than Easter. It would be hard to deny that claim. In fact, I’ve often wondered why we go all out in our celebration of Christmas but seem rather subdued when it comes to Easter. Rohr offers one reason. He says “because for God to be born as one of us in this world among the animals and in a poor family shows that humanity is good, flesh is good, and this world is good!” I’m not sure Rohr’s reason fully justifies the disproportionate celebration Christmas receives over Easter but he does point to an often forgotten truth that was made manifest when God took on human flesh that first Christmas. By entering this world and actually becoming a part of this world God revealed the goodness of Creation and humanity itself. This goodness was already affirmed in the Genesis 1 account of Creation but by taking on human flesh and living in the midst of this Creation God affirmed their goodness on a whole new level.
Contrary to various philosophies that have dominated human thinking at times, this world is good and life in this world is as well. The birth of Jesus Christ offers proof of this. If the world and life were not sacred prior to Jesus’ birth—and I believe that they were—they certainly were afterwards. In a definitive way God added God’s stamp of approval on both when Jesus was born.
At the end of today’s “daily meditation” Rohr says “Christ is both the Alpha and the Omega of history (Revelation 1:8), naming it correctly at the very start and forever alluring it forward. Love is both the cause and the goal of all creation. This is a meaningful universe, and meaning is what the soul needs to thrive.” God’s love revealed at Christmas, and certainly Easter too, does in fact give meaning to the universe and life itself. It also serves as a useful reminder that God is as much a part of this earth and this life as God is of heaven and the life to come. I’m afraid far too many of us fail to recognize this. If we fully understood this truth we’d be singing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” not just at Christmas but year round.
(I took the first and third image in Henderson County, KY., and the middle image at Yellowstone National Park.)