Headline: Winds Against the Manger

Posted on: 2014-12-31

The oracle of Christmas

"For every boot of the trampling warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end" (Is. 9:5-7). For 400 years from the time of the prophet Malachi the fulfillment of this promise was awaited. Then came the event of Bethlehem. Now, it is Christmas yet again, that evergreen fact of more than 2000 years ago in a manger in old, cold Bethlehem is here! "'Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us. "And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning the child'" (Lk. 2: 15-17). Millions have since proclaimed the news concerning that child and on it depends the hopes and joys of over one billion people who believe that he is the salvation of all humanity. "For God so loved the world  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16-17). Welcome salvation, merry Christmas.

The rebellion and opposition

That was God's plan, but man challenged God's will right from the beginning of creation. In utmost patience and compassion, God promised a savior for his people and fulfilled it. Jesus left everything in glory and came into the world not counting his equality with God a thing to be grasped. (Phil. 2:6ff). He came among his own and his own did not receive him (Jn. 1: 11). The mere fact of his coming provoked considerable dis-ease; the discomfort of a census (Lk. 2:1-5), the rejection at the inn (Lk. 2: 6-7), the persecution of Herod and the killing of the innocent children (Matt. 2:13-18), the temptation in the desert (Matt 4:1-11), the opposition of the Pharisees, the betrayal of the disciples, the rebellion against the truth, the cowardice of Pilate (Lk 23:1-25), and the crucifixion of the Son of Man (Jn. 19). Those tragedies and rebellion still subsist in man today. Out there the wolves of death and evil still devour God's children and threaten his kingdom. Today however they bear new identities even as "followers of Christ": Be they politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats, businessmen, artisans, clergymen or students, they still make Jesus cry out: "Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous. So you yourselves confess to be the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. And now finish off what your ancestors began" (Matt. 23: 29-32).

The travesty of Christmas today

The travesty of Christmas today is that Christ is no longer the focus of Christmas, the ego is. The task of Jesus to build God's kingdom of peace love and justice is hampered because the human heart is no longer available to him. His mission to give life to the full has become even more difficult to sustain. What with all the bloodshed and violence through occuring through brutal murders, assassination, abortion, ritual killing and other accidents going on! The reality of sin experienced from Adam and Eve disrupts human fraternity, disfigures the nobility of our brotherhood and continues to put humanity to shame. The outcome is a chronic estrangement of humanity from God resulting in the violation of human dignity, and the institutionalization of injustice. How, for example, does one speak of the Prince of Peace today to those who have been maimed, injured, decimated and rendered homeless by terrorist and other violent attacks? How does one speak of Providence to those who live in abject poverty in the midst of plenty?” “How does one speak of a the love of Jesus to those who have lost those whom they love and who love them?” It becomes really difficult to refute the claim that the God of the marginalized different from the God of the rest of us.

The faithfulness of God

"Give thanks to the God of gods for his kindness endures forever" (Ps 136:2). The Baby in the manger is still there for all. As the Good Shepherd he is still out on the mountains searching for his sheep. He has said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind (Lk. 4: 18-19). Even those who wallow in material wealth, power immorality, self-centeredness, greed, corruption etc. are called to seek freedom from their bondage. "Come to me all you who are burdened... and I will give you rest (Matt. 11: 28-30). So now we all dare to hope that in spite of the present darkness humanity shall be set free. For now we trust that God has reasons which reason cannot know and count on his word. He has already declared: "I know well the plans I have in mind for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! (Jer. 29: 11-14) plans to give you a future full of hope. In spite of the present rough winds against our salvation it is still safe to believe that the manger will outlast the grave. God will have the final word and our joy shall be restored.