My recollection is that in my family of origin, part of our celebration of someone’s birthday includes a story, or 2, that begins with “I remember the day you were born; I was…..” Some of the stories are told exactly the same way year after year, others change in details over time, some don’t recount historical events as a camera may have caught them….but they are still true stories. They’re true because of who is telling them; it is the story-teller’s relationship to the Birthday Girl or Boy, their experience of our coming into the world, and into their lives, that gives the story it’s life and it’s truth.
That’s how I approach the birth stories about Jesus. Some of the stories have been told exactly the same way year after year, some change in details over time, some don’t recount historical events like a TV camera would, but, like our own birth stories what matters about the story is the storyteller, and their relationship to this child whose birth stories we share. It is our experience of Jesus coming into the world and how that changes us, that makes this story true….and what makes it sacred story. We tell about how we encounter the Holy Mystery behind all of life in the life of this child, and the man he will grow up to be.
For Christians, this child’s birth matters – although we may have difference about how and why it matters. Because if it doesn’t matter to us in 2018, it doesn’t matter, period. But with matters of faith and spirit, we can only speak of our own experience; what we share becomes our testimony, our evidence, of the holy and sacred experience.
For me, this is a story about finding beauty and hope in the middle of violence and anger. In the middle of a brutal occupation, when people are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals, this child is born. I wonder: what do his parents hope for him? what do the shepherds see in him? how can such an innocent — who makes me love him just ‘cos he’s here — be anything but beautiful and full of potential? What do you see in this story?
So for me, today, I might testify that this child will grow up to be a man who is so full of Love I see through him God in the flesh, walking among humankind. From him, I will learn how that I am loved and worthy, and so I can love myself. I will learn how to love my neighbours, how to share, and how to the love the one I think of as “the enemy”, the “other”, the stranger. This child cracks open my heart, like the skies cracked open by angel’s song, so we can step into a new life and way of being in the world. And this new world order begins when we open our hearts to love just one more person.
How would tell the truth and joy you find in this story?
Merry Christmas; may the love incarnate we celebrate bring you peace.
(Thanks to jimbakershow.com for the image.)