It’s easy to think of God, the Father Almighty, as the great good neighbor on high. He feels distant and we wonder whether he pays much attention to us here, across the border, in every-man’s land. Shootings, lootings, famines, floods, these go on in marching succession as they always have done, increasing in intensity, perhaps, yet piling up sorrows together like great snow banks of grief which lean against someone else’s fence, uncared-for, unobserved by the Omniscient Eye. They melt in time into pools of standing tears, and water our worst fears.
We can almost fear he is near and worse than indifferent, uncaring: a great holy Other with unswollen eyes who goes about universal tasks of deep significance on automatic drive, oblivious, head in his vast newspaper, full of Himself and no other. These are blasphemies we seldom speak, but often think… And worse, believe where our deepest faith competes with these in mortal struggle.
And they cry out to us that this is “real”, that this is “true” and why don’t you and I give up? One simple reason why. Among us was born a child. He was the Most High. His eyes were swollen with our pain. His head was bowed beneath our shame and all our fear and unbelief, our longings and our grief was tied to His shredded back and crucified. He lived and died. Where graves and gunfire, mortar and drones, Katrina and Sandy and the thousands of silent tsunamis which rip apart the hearts of humanity around the globe abound; where fear of eternal silence and an empty throne where sits no Father but a hooded executioner creep up and capture pain-weakened hearts- enter the Man in a towel who washes feet. Enter the Man whose smile vanquishes unbelief. Enter the One who stores our grief in safety until he makes all wrongs come right. Enter the baby of Silent Night.
We realize that we live not next door neighbor to the One who lives, but in His house. We look around the earth and see not our own furnishings and what scraps we keep, but His trees, His sky, His ocean depths, His Saturn’s rings, His shimmering waves. We find ourselves sitting in the lap of God our lips curled up in scorn. Let us pause, reflect and weep. Let us watch Him as He sleeps vulnerably in the manger deep and let us just for once believe.
Let us have faith this Christmas and rejoin the angel chorus in His praise. And let us live there all our days.
Eric and Anne Stoothoff