Encountering Christmas

On the socks friends gifted me for Christmas is boldly printed “I am here” with the red marker seen in digital map apps. As soon as I saw them, I thought of Christmas. For with the birth of Christ, God is saying, “I Am here.” “I Am here,” God declares and then goes on to say, “I want to be here, I desire to be here and to be this close to you in your living, in your joys and sorrows, in your hurts and healing. I am here because I love you so much, no matter what the world tells you, I do. I am here and I see you, the true you that hides behind cover stories. I see your heart and your desires. I see your heart and the hope that it carries. I see your heart and the light which you illumine the world with, even if you feel it doesn’t shine bright enough.”

“I Am here” is the great gift of Christmas. Our God – Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9.6), Emmanuel – with us. Our God one of us. Our God here and now. Yes, this Feast marks a specific birth day and time in history but when we get past the wrappings, the demands and the false expectations which now come with it, what remains? That God poured forth love so great that we were given the greatest gift of “I Am here” in the person of Jesus. Jesus, our brother born in the humble stable, adored by shepherds and strangers from a far, cradled in a feed trough and gazed upon by creation. Our brother the fullness of God proving “I Am here” and continuing the covenant of love. Our brother who calls us to encounter and walk in the ways of honesty, love that is not movie made, and to be bearers of good news and light.

The good news and the light of the birth of Jesus is what we try and replicate in our greetings, decorations, feasting and traditions. These are means for us to enter into this great mystery. They must also call us to be witnesses of the good news and light for those who are hurting, alone, seeking, lost and abandoned. If we don’t bear Christ in the world this Christmas how will the “I am here” marker be seen in our world? Like the voice on the map app telling us to continue for 7.5 kilometers and then turn in 600 meters, are we as religious women and men a guiding voice to the Christ Child? Are we moving our marker or rerouting our ways to continually show others where our “I Am here” God is? Let us not forget that we are incorporated into the “I am here” message and this is indeed good news of great joy (Luke 2.10) and our life mission!

The mystic Caryll Houselander said: “Our rest in a world that is full of unrest is Christ’s trust in his Father; our peace in a world without peace is our surrender, complete as the surrender of the sleeping child to her mother, of the Christ in us, to God who is both Father and Mother.” The tiny child asleep in the manger, the tiny child asleep in his mother’s arms, the tiny child asleep in the ICU, the tiny child asleep in the makeshift tent, the tiny child asleep under a tree, the tiny child asleep in her bed does nothing else but proclaim: “I am here.” It is the invitation to trust, to surrender, to be, to know we are loved by Creator God. Will we be brave enough this Christmas to encounter the Christ Child and whisper back to God, “I am here”?

May the blessings of this season allow for you to sit with the great gift of the great “I AM” being here and always with us. May you find time to cradle the Child born for us. May you trust that his Spirit is stirring up in you more good news and light to share beyond this season into the days of 2022. May you know that the “I Am here” God of Life keeps this promise…always.

Christmas Blessings.

Blog post – Br. Michael Perras, ofm

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