HE The Most Revd Jerome Lloyd OSJV
Titular Archbishop of Selsey
Irrespective of any pandemic, the commemoration of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ is still a powerful force for hope in our world. The ramifications of that event some 2’000 years ago still touches the lives of millions of people around the world.
It’s quite possible that many of us this year will not be able to celebrate Christmas in the usual way. Restrictions and limitations on movement, travel, even company and a variety of other factors may preclude us from being able to keep Christmas as we might otherwise prefer. Yet one thing will remain the same, just as it always has throughout the centuries and despite the varying fortunes of humanity in any given age since the first Christmas; the incarnation of Jesus Christ will still become a present reality as well as a remembered history. How? By Christians manifesting in themselves, in their words, in their actions and in their lives, their Hope through His glory.
On Christmas Day the beginning of St John’s Gospel is usually read and we hear the Word described as the light that illuminates every person [John 1:9]; that this light is God and was sent from God and is life-giving [John 1:4]. In order for this light to give eternal life however, it must be recognized [John 1:12], acknowledged [John 1:13] and accepted. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” St John 1:14. There is nothing abstract about the Christian faith! Our God came to live among us, as one of us and desires us to become like Him!
The passage from St John’s Gospel continues: “And we beheld His glory”. In Hebrew the word for glory is kabôd and it refers to the weight or value of something. To contemplate the glory of God is to recognize His true worth. Sometimes we see the genuine glory i.e. worth of a person – not in moments of success or triumph – but in difficult and challenging moments in response to adversity. Later in the Gospel, we discover that this glory of God in Christ was manifested on the Cross and in the Resurrection. In the Nativity we see God’s glory already in the fact that He willingly chose these most humble of circumstances for our benefit.
This is real glory, the glory of the utter renunciation of oneself for others.
“God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27 These words of St Paul ought to resonate with every Christian today in these difficult and confusing times. “When I am in the world, I am the Light of the World.” John 9:5 We are to make known to the world the presence of Christ in us, through we who are called to bring “light to the world” and who must “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 5:14-16]
The fact that Jesus became flesh shows that our existence is not one that must be rescued from the flesh, but rather that through baptism our flesh itself has been redeemed. Our flesh has become through baptism the temple of the Holy Spirit, the place in which we have the potential to live the complete form of humanity that Jesus, in His incarnation became and revealed. Every baptized Christian has been made a new creation in Christ [c2 Corinthians 5:17] a child of God [John 1:13], whose identity is in Christ [Galations 2:20] and in whom the glory – kabôd – of God can be revealed.
Just as Christians throughout the pandemic through their acts of charity have been manifesting God’s glory in Christ by their faith. So too can the meaning of Christmas, the significance and hope of the Incarnation, continue to be made known through YOU! Emmanuel – God with US!
Oremus pro invicem!
May the Christ-child dwell in your hearts that you may shew forth His love to the world!
In Nativitate Domini MMXX