I have childhood memories of sitting in the silence of Christmas morning. Of course, there was great excitement about presents and company coming. Deep within, there was the contemplation of something holy and important. It is in this silence that Christmas shines as something so precious and yet, beyond our understanding. God becomes one of us.
The Nativity is romanticized and commercialized beyond its religious significance. There is still goodness in this. For a moment, even if only remotely engaged in the narrative, the world reflects on a family, a helpless infant, the struggle of being displaced and on simplicity and transcendence. “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” Our weary world is always in need of rejoicing. Emmanuel-God is with us- is worthy of great rejoicing.
We cannot reduce this moment to Christmas day. The God of all time lives among us perpetuating the thrill of hope throughout our lives. Perhaps we can bring this realization to all the precious and sometimes painful moments that we share in the Christmas season. Witnessing the joy of children in their excitement, the warmth of families and friends as they make memories and the messages of peace from around the world are a step back from the ordinary. There is also the sorrow of missing loved ones, of facing poverty and enduring the hardship of war and conflict. God is with us. In it all, Emmanuel quietly comes into our existence as one of us.
On this Christmas Day may the infant in the manger who brings great news continue to touch every corner of our humanity and bring peace to the imprisoned, the impoverished, the heart-broken, the grieving, the sick, the hostile, lonely and confused. God is with us, in all our messy human existence. The Lord comes to us in a baby’s first cry and a mother and father’s love.
Let us “go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place” and contemplate in silence this miracle and thrill of hope.
Jan Bentham is a retired Religion Coordinator with the Ottawa Catholic School Board. She is a musician, serving in music ministry at St. Ignatius Parish in Ottawa. She currently works at St. Paul’s University with the Catholic Women’s Leadership Program.