Tuesday, 22 January 2019

God’s love means there’s always hope

CHRISTMAS, as we have it, is historically rooted in the coming of Jesus Christ, God’s great act of involvement in human history.

The Christian belief is that the Christmas baby is God in human form; look at him and you see the character of the person who called the universe/multiverse into being.

So to know about God we look at the baby and where he ended up.

Look at the baby. He’s not judging you, he’s not condemning you, he is there in a dark corner in a small town in a backwater of a great empire, simply sharing your humanity, your vulnerability, your simple human need.

Because that baby is God, we can see that there is no hiding place for us, no place so low, so out of the way, so squalid, that we can hide from God there, nowhere is safe from him.

God doesn’t hang out just in churches or in heaven; if he can inhabit a stable he can turn up anywhere.

Look at the cross, or rather the man on the cross, Jesus. He’s not judging you. In fact there on the cross he said, among other things, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

He isn’t judging there, he is calling us to some self-knowledge, to some awareness of how our flawed humanity (not that of the politicians, flawed though they are, but yours and mine) can lead to a situation like that, the innocent dying in agony because of the lies we tell ourselves and others and the malice that accompanies them.

He’s not judging, he’s asking us in effect to judge ourselves and to turn in a different direction. That’s what the old word repentance means.

Because that broken body is also God, we know that what we see in ourselves when we look at him aright will be a part of the truth about us, an important part.

But not the whole part. Earlier in his story, Jesus tells us that what we see on the cross and in the manger is the gift of love. He hangs there because he loves us, he dies there because he loves us.

As well as the knowledge of our limitation and failure, with the humility that engenders, he wants us to see above all that we are loved like that, loved to the limit, children for whom God gives everything.

Because that breaking heart and rejected love is God’s, we know that this at least is a love which will not twist us, warp us or harm us, but will help us to grow and to face all that life throws at us. All that death throws at us... because beyond the cross, beyond death, there is Easter and so there is always hope.

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