Almighty One, we call You Emmanuel (God-with-us) because of this day. On this magical morning (and every Christmas morning) we attempt to wrap our minds around a mystery that exceeds our ability to fully understand. You, who created the world, visited our world as One-with-us.
You, who made the Milky Way, suckled human milk from a virgin’s breast. You, who called the seven seas into existence, cried salty tears in need of being comforted. You, who rested on the seventh day of creation, slept within a feeding trough filled with hay.
On this Christmas Day, we recall the extraordinary strides You took stepping across time and space in order to experience life-with-us. Laying aside Your glory, You clothed Yourself in our skin exposing Yourself to the sin of our making. And after two-thousand years the sin of our making continues to manifest itself all around us. Having endured our human condition, You ache with us, God.
But on those silent nights when Your presence seems absence, remind us that You personally relate to our plight as we suffer in silence. Admittedly, while we sing “Joy to the World,” there is not much joy in our world. Homelessness and hunger, injustice and poverty, abuse at home and war abroad undermine our joy. These chronic realities prevent us from experiencing the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness our founding fathers pictured.
We deck the halls with boughs of holly, but our hearts are draped in despair. Unemployment is rampant. Gun violence is unprecedented. The political process is demoralizing. Our personal and national debt is on the increase while church attendance is in steady decline.
As much of our nation dreams of a White Christmas, many of us are dreaming of a day when the moral courage of a beloved black leader would increasingly mark our lives. Thank You for Nelson Mandela’s example of forgiveness, his pursuit of justice and his championing of human rights.
Yes, today we mark the birthday of the Prince of Peace even as the death of a peace-loving president continues to occupy our attention. The global grief surrounding Mandela’s passing reminds us how a single life can alter the course of history. Jesus did. So did Moses, Esther, Mohamed, Copernicus, Luther, Lincoln, Gandhi, Graham, King and Teresa. And we can.
May we honor this day with more than carol-singing, over-eating or gift-giving. May our presence in this world be the gift that keeps on giving. Amen.
Islander Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos is the Chaplain at Covenant Shores and a columnist for the Mercer Island Reporter.