“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
On this fourth day of Christmas it might be helpful to point out that our most powerful understanding of the Bethlehem event revolves around the future rather than the past. We get caught up, understandably, in the sentimentality of the season. We can imagine that scene of long-ago: the stars bright, the animals gentle and curious, the Holy Family faithful and at peace. We have vivid personal memories of a past Christmas which seemed perfect. For many of us, it takes only the sound of a carol or the look in a child’s eye to create a spasm of emotion that somehow manages to be both joyful and weepy at the same time. And yet the biblical message is relentlessly about the future; about possibilities not yet perceived; about hope in the midst of all that has gone wrong. It is about what is yet to be.
To Rilke’s line, I would add, “And full of the promise the Angel gave to Joseph: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.’” As we stumble from Christmas into the new year, exhausted and anxious, may we be continually renewed by God’s promise to be with us in all things. My wish for you is not a “happy” new year but a “pregnant” new year, full of things that have never been but also full of God’s presence and grace and love.
From Rev. Don Underwood