I read a Christmas Day sermon by early Christian church father, Saint Leo the Great (400-461):
“… In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind.”
“… Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because of His great love for us He took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins He brought us to life with Christ, so that in Him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off the old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.”
That is the whole point of Christmas! This is where the real joy of Christmas lies for all humanity. This is the real reason to rejoice. Christ is the Christian’s Joie de vivre.
There is a mystery we see in a baby’s smile, yet unsullied by life’s disappointments and sin; they are still close enough to their mother’s womb and the presence of God they experienced there, even before they took on form.
I am an old man now, but bells of Christmas still call me back to my own simple early childlike joy. So many frosty Canadian Christmas mornings throughout adulthood I awoke to see my wheelchair beside my bed. The cold steel could not steal joy from my soul at the very real presence of the Holy Spirit deep within me (the same Spirit that has warmed the hearts of small children and Christians through the centuries).
Twinkling lights of a Christmas tree greeted me when I whirred in the living room in my electric wheelchair. The violence occurring to my brain could not extinguish the peace in my mind. Christmas joy shone bright deep within me. For more than three decades, my body slowly became more and more like a corpse with multiple sclerosis, but my soul hummed knowing God has loved me since before I was formed in my mother’s womb. Nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. He came to reconcile with God the likes of sinful people like me.
This was the message of Leo the Great’s homily. As he finished his sermon he said:
“Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. … Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.”
The star of Bethlehem shone through the darkness of night. It gave witness to the Light of the world being born in a dank lowly manger, come to take away the sins of the world, for all who believe in Him. The road from Bethlehem led inexorably to Golgotha. From cradle to cross, Jesus brought a light to mankind.
Another cold Canadian Christmas season is holy and warms my heart. Frigid northern winter night air whispers of hope, forgiveness, and joy to all who will listen with their soul rather than their ears. They will see with their heart rather than their eyes the love of God all around them now and throughout the year.
Beneath a mountain of blankets, I turn in my bed. The wheelchair is gone. My legs are alive once again. Sleep comes easy in the abiding peace of Christ.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight. — Mark