I just finished reading Jesus and Community by Gerhard Lohfink. Professor Lohfink reminded me of what Christmas is about, although that wasn’t his intent. Speaking of conditions in Jesus’ day, he says, “The world has structured itself in such a way that God no longer figures in its interpretation of reality. The moment that Christ and the community of disciples which follows him lives the true, God-given construction of reality, the deceit of the world collapses.”
That’s Christmas. The day everything changed and a new reality based on God’s love for his creation became evident. The new God-given reality flies in the face of everything that the world (read culture) values and believes. Culture says a king needs power; God’s reality sends the king as a helpless baby. Culture says take all you can and look out for number one; God’s reality has Jesus emptying himself of all that is rightfully his, taking human form, and humbling himself to save us. Christmas is God’s gift of reality to us.
This morning, Debbie, Scott Chafee, and I delivered presents to two boys here in town. Their grandmother had asked for clothes for them — not toys, just clothes. Their apartment is small, dirty, and reeks of cigarette smoke. They had a small, artificial Christmas tree with no presents under it. You know the scene because you and your church were there this week, too. A thousand small, dingy apartments like Linda’s dot our communities. Your church took toys or clothes or food, or all of those to someone like Linda who has grandsons like Alan and David.
Their reality says life is hard and no one cares. God’s reality says someone does care. Scott put on a Santa hat, but we should have been dressed like the disciples. We were following Jesus, living out God’s new reality for Linda and her grandsons. The really cool thing is, we helped Linda last year. This year she asked us if we could help again. We were happy to do so. Maybe this is the day everything changes for Linda, too.