To Touch the Face of God

Reflection offered at the Family Celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord
on Christmas Eve 2018, at Church of the Ascension, Seattle, Washington

Some stories never grow old.  The Christmas story is one of those.  We can hear it year after year after year.  We know all the details; we know how it begins; we know how it ends; there are no surprises, no new plot twists.  And still, we go out of our way to hear it again.  Even on a cold, dark, winter night, we come together to hear it again.

And not just to hear it for its own sake; we could do that at home.  No, we want to hear it together.  It’s a story to be shared.  It’s like a family story, except that it’s a family that stretches all across the globe and throughout the ages.  It’s in the sharing of the story that we experience its meaning; perhaps because it is a story of relationship and connection.

What touches you in the Christmas story?  Does that change every time you hear it?  Where do you find yourself in the story?  Maybe you were in a Christmas pageant when you were younger.

I think the Christmas story endures because it reveals to us something Beautiful and True.  It speaks directly to our hearts and souls and touches us in the depths of our being.

What strikes me is the intimacy of this story.  It wouldn’t work in a large theatre.  No, it requires the cramped confines of a stall.  It is as if God is saying, “Come here.  No, closer.  Look.”  And then God opens God’s hands, “See?”  What is revealed is so small and precious and vulnerable, and yet, floods the whole earth with light and life and hope.  It overwhelms the stories of darkness that deaden our souls.

In the birth of Jesus, we have God fully embracing our humanity – all of it – start to finish; challenges and joys; work and play; love and family and all while in relationship with all sorts of people; with us.

God embraces humanity and invites us into a relationship so intimate, and in such a way – as a baby – that we can hardly help but respond with tenderness and love.

Like the shepherds, we are amazed.  They respond, joining the angels in songs of praise.  And so do we.  We can’t wait for Christmas to come before we start singing; anticipating this story we love so well.

And so, we come together tonight, to hear the story, to be amazed once more, to be bathed in the light of Christ.  As God opens God’s hands, we are drawn even closer.  We reach out to touch the smooth, tender cheek of Mary’s beautiful, precious baby.
We reach out to touch the face of God.