As I was contemplating what to say this time, world events were swirling around us all at a terrifying rate: climate change (it’s real), acts of terror in many places (some by homegrown neighbors and some by border-crossing strangers), political rhetoric which seems to have come unmoored from civility and decency, refugees caught in impossible morass of fear and suspicion, ramping up aggression in the middle east to put an end to the ramped-up aggression in the middle east… And it’s Christmas: joy to the world, peace on earth, glory to God in the highest.
Words fail. Actions have unintended consequences. How are we to live? What are we to become? Then I remembered:
Love came down at Christmas.
Love divine. Love transforming. Love. Over and over again, our Lord proclaimed, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.” and “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul – and love your neighbor as yourself.” Indeed, the whole reason for the Incarnation – for the birth of Jesus, God with us – is love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16) Grounded in the Gospel, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
There’s really not much you and I can do about the big, and scary, world events – certainly nothing decisive and grand-scale. However, there is a great deal you and I can do in love, here and now. Simply. Quietly. (Rather like the way Love came down and dwelt among us – born quietly in an obscure part of the world in an inconsequential little town in a small outbuilding, noticed only by the insignificant and powerless people of the fields)
There are twelve days of Christmas. After the wrapping paper is recycled, the dishes washed and put away, the decorations put back in their boxes for next year, it is still Christmas. It’s Christmas all the way to Epiphany (January 6th). Shall we give a gift to the whole world this Christmas? Not by any grand-scale awesome feat of super-power, but by simple quiet random daily acts of love and kindness here where we are planted? Every day of Christmas, let us look for ways to act in love to cast out hate and fear. Every day of Christmas, let us be alert to our own responsibility to be people of love who follow the Way of Love, even when it is hard or seems to be irrelevant. Let us love our neighbors as ourselves, reaching out to embrace the unlovable, shelter the undeserving, welcome the stranger, do good to those who make us nervous, and engage the ones who lash out in fear and anger.
It won’t be easy. It will be real. It will be faithful. It will change the world.