Like a twig drawn into a whirlpool, my heart is already being drawn into tomorrow. When we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, we’re celebrating the ultimate demonstration that God is the creator of hope.
The hope we find on Christmas Day comes first of all from the absolute proof that our Creator has not left us alone. Far from that, God has established in Jesus Christ a communion of his Spirit and ours which restores that oneness with him intended from the beginning.
Common to peoples across the globe is that there is something wrong with us, that something in our story has gone awry. And it is true: We have broken, each and all, that conjunction with our Creator which was to have given us our very sense of identity. Our selfhood is intertwined with that of our Creator and when we neglect or reject our identification with him, we reject ourselves.
We find ourselves again only when we sense that God has found us and called us back into communion. Jesus the Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, is the perfect embodiment of that communion. Loving us, forgiving us our rebellion, and calling us back home in union with himself, Jesus is hope made tangible. It is as if hope itself were born that Christmas morn. . .
In a second sense, tomorrow is the birth of hope because it is a promise of what is to come. Christmas is not a whole but just the first of a two part movement from despair to hope, darkness to light, death to life. Christmas is not complete without Easter. Birth leads to death, even for Jesus, but death leads to life. And that is Easter: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As the matter is expressed in a relatively new hymn by Rae Whitney:
Christmas has its cradle, where a baby cried. / Did the lantern’s shadow show him crucified? / Did he foresee darkly his life’s willing loss? / Christmas has its cradle and Easter has its cross.
We cannot enjoy the fullness of Christmas without finding ourselves drawn like twigs into a whirlpool toward Good Friday and Easter. Birth, death, resurrection: Each is a step along the way. tomorrow we take that first step, again, as we have in each of the last 2000 years.