Pierre-Henry Buisson Christmas 2020
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, o Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Joy to the world!
I have to confess that in the past I have been pretty annoyed, to say the least, with all the Christmas cheer and all the fuss about the Christmas’ Spirit. Why? Because in our country we can hear about the Christmas Spirit just after Thanksgiving, if not sooner, and it’s very tempting to skip the Advent season that I like so much. But more importantly, because the Christmas cheer and the Christmas Spirit that we can see in all Christmas movies and shows are all about feeling good, feeling joyful and happy. Of course, there is nothing wrong with feeling good and joyful. But why do we have the desire to be happy, joyful, and filled with love at Christmas? Why are we in such a good mood during the Christmas season? Why do we feel the need to gather with our loved ones? Not because of the Christmas spirit.
We are in a happy mood tonight because of the One who was born in Bethlehem from Mary and Joseph. We are in a jubilant mood tonight because of the One whose birth had been foretold by some prophets. We are in an exultant mood tonight because of the One who came into this world to fulfill the hope of countless generations of Jewish people. We are in a celebratory mood because of the Incarnation of God in Jesus.
On the first Christmas, the birth of a baby boy took place in humility and solitude in the overcrowded city of David, Bethlehem. But what a baby! Not only this baby boy was God’s answer to the people of Israel who had been expecting the Messiah for so long, but also this baby was so much more. This baby boy was a gift from God not only to the people of Israel, but also a gift from God for humankind, a gift from God for all men and women from all times. A gift from God for all of God’s creation. This Jewish baby boy was so much more than his frail appearance could suggest. Nobody could have expected who or what he was.
At Christmas, we are not just reminiscing what happened more than 2000 years ago in the village of Bethlehem. When we celebrate Christmas we proclaim the true nature of the divine gift: in Jesus God became man. In Jesus, God took human flesh. In Jesus, God took sides with humankind. At Christmas God became one of us out of love for all of us. The secret of Christmas is well expressed in John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Tonight, we are celebrating the irruption of the divinity into our humanity. Tonight, we are celebrating the beginning of our salvation because God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. And we know how Jesus would live his life, we know that his last three years were not easy, and we know that he would give his life on a cross before rising again on Easter morning.
So, it’s why I decided the Christmas cheer and Christmas spirit won’t bother me anymore. I wish all people around me would understand what Christmas really means. I wish people who celebrate Christmas all around the world would acknowledge who the baby of Christmas is. This is only a dream. This year, maybe more than before, we all need more joy, hope, love, and peace in our hearts. We need more joy, hope, love, and peace in our world. Christmas cheer, Christmas joy, Christmas Spirit are byproducts of the birth of Christ, and for that, I want to rejoice and give thanks to God. I pray that one day people will realize that the joy and love they have experienced at Christmas and around Christmas are gifts from God who loves them so much that God became one of us in Jesus.
Tonight, as we celebrate Christmas virtually, let us bring and lay down before Jesus all our fears, anxieties, worries. Like the shepherds, let us humbly kneel silently before Jesus and contemplate him. Tonight we are the people who walked in darkness, and in Jesus, the light of the world, we have seen a great light. A light of hope, a light of joy, a light of peace, a light of love. It is why like the shepherds we are invited to deeply rejoice in spite of all that is wrong in our lives and in our world.
Tonight, we are invited to rejoice with the angel’s message: To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. Tonight we are invited to rejoice with the words Isaiah wrote about this expected Messiah: For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Tonight we are invited to rejoice because we know that Christ’s loving presence is still at work in our lives, and in the world.
Tonight, we are invited to rejoice because with Christmas begins a new step in the realization of God’s Kingdom. But as we celebrate and rejoice tonight, we are also invited to actively do what we can to make this world a better place. We are invited, or maybe more accurately, we are being sent to proclaim by our words, by our actions, by the way we live our lives, that the baby born in Bethlehem is Christ the Lord. We are being sent to proclaim by the way we live that God cares for this world, and for all human beings, especially those who are left on the margins of our society or those being exploited. If we keep alive in our hearts the light of Christmas, we will bring good news to those around us.
Let our lives proclaim tonight and all year long the true reason for the Christmas cheer: Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room. Rejoice tonight and all year long, and go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, that Jesus Christ is born. Amen!