As we approach Christmas this year the world seems a real mess. Terrorism, the refugee crisis, climate change, economic woes, political turmoil and so on it all goes. But in one way or another the world has always been a mess – it certainly was when Jesus was born.
In Palestine at the time there were dramas of every kind not the least of which – from a Jewish point of view – was the Roman occupation. Whatever about the famous “Pax Romana” – the Roman peace – things were anything but peaceful in the Holy Land at this time. As one conquered warlord said of Rome “they created devastation and they call it peace”.
Into that mess Jesus was born. The mess is symbolised in the Christmas story by the circumstances of the birth: no room at the inn, the farm animals, the feed box into which the newborn child is placed. Mess. When the child is born God enters into the human mess – to transfigure it. The transfiguring begins at Christmas but will be complete only once Jesus is raised from the dead. And even the mess of death is transfigured. The shadow of the Cross falls across the crib but so too does the light of Easter.
If all we see is the mess then we miss the magnificence of God with us. It’s been said that the world is intelligible to those who are properly intelligent. And faith is the proper intelligence that allows us to see the magnificence at the heart of the mess. To see that the child born into such messy circumstances is God with us: the one who transfigures all our mess – even bringing life from death.
So let faith be the light of your Christmas this year.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge