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Vulnerability – the True Meaning of Christmas

Who Christ is

It is often said that the gospel writers, Matthew, Luke and John, wrote their infancy narratives (yes, I include John’s Prologue) to show who Christ is. That is largely true. As well as perhaps satisfying some curiosity about Jesus’ background, using some traditions that had been handed down to the evangelists, their main aim was to enlighten and reassure. They wanted to show that Jesus is the Son given to us for our salvation, and that he is indeed fully divine and fully human. As God, his power to save is sure, and it is human beings that he came to restore to friendship with God.

But what’s happening really?

Revealing who you are is risky. We all know that. There is a real danger that we will be rejected, and most of us have experienced that in one way or another. Being shunned by someone to whom you are attracted or like is bad enough, but when you are vilified, misunderstood and cast aside by someone whom you love, and you thought loved you, the effect is devastating. When you are trying your best as a parent or a teacher and are convinced that what you’re offering is in the young person’s best interests, you can be on the receiving end of anger and denial.

“He was in the world that had its being through him,
and the world did not know him.
He came to his own domain
and his own people did not accept him.”
John 1, 10-11

The Christmas Story – Our Story

When we are young, the charm of the Christmas crib is entrancing. As we grow up, we start to realise the danger inherent in the circumstances surrounding Christ’s birth. We read about Mary having to give birth without secure shelter. The angels might have been out there telling the shepherds about the birth of the Messiah, but they were not standing guard beside the manger. Then there’s the threat from Herod, the flight into Egypt, and the exposure to people who are not of your faith or culture.

In Christ, God has made himself vulnerable. He has come not in power or might, but in vulnerability. He has placed himself into our hands and risked rejection, misunderstanding and insult. He has, for two thousand years received all of this and more.

But we know that when we finally open ourselves up to another who returns our affection, love and understanding, the true magic of life takes over. Often in small ways, we see how lives can be transformed. How much more is the power of Christ able to change our hearts, if, despite the hurts received, we venture out to meet him and others, as did all those in the Christmas story who took a chance and threw their lot in with God’s plan.

“But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become Children of God.”
John 1,12

Have a great Christmas and enjoy a well-earned break!

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