Luke 2:1-5 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
Once a year the Christmas season strikes both the sacred and secular worlds with sledgehammer force: Suddenly Jesus Christ is everywhere.
For approximately one month His presence is inescapable. You may accept Him or reject Him, affirm Him or deny Him, but you cannot ignore Him. Of course He is proclaimed in speech, song and symbol in all the Christian churches. But He rides every red-nosed reindeer, lurks behind every new doll, resonates in the most sacralized “season’s greetings”. Remotely or proximately, He is toasted in every cup of Christmas cheer. Each sprig of holly is a hint of His holiness, each cluster of mistletoe a sign He is here.
For those who claim His name, Christmas heralds this luminous truth: The God of Jesus Christ is our absolute future. Such is the deeply hopeful character of this sacred season. By God’s free doing in Bethlehem, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Light, life and love are on our side.
“Jesus Christmases in us whenever people come home to themselves in our presence, and when they feel a little less hopeful and joyful because we are absent.” These words, scribbled in a journal several years ago in solitude, lay hold of me with prophetic power when the great season of hope begins. Christians are a people of hope to the extent that others can find in us a source of strength and joy. If not, our profession of faith “By the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man” is as academic, tentative and hopeless as the alcoholic who promises, “I’ll quit tomorrow.” To know means to be transformed by what one knows.