The Christmas story contains so much. Angels, animals, shepherds, an unmarried mother and an older father, people filled with expectation, hopeful, but also consumed with political cynicism. It is all in the story – and if you pause to think about some of the story of 2016 – we might see it in our lives today. It is in the diversity of our world, the confusion of our days, the chaos of ourselves. It is difficult to see the whole because we only see the parts.
Perhaps religious people are often too good at sorting the good from the bad, the joy from the sadness, the beautiful from the ugly. We sort and separate, control and organise so as not to contaminate. It is as if, on the desks of our lives, we put the perfect on one side and the imperfect on the other.
This is not the gospel writer’s way of drawing us into the story and it is certainly not God’s way of dealing with us. It is all drawn together as a whole, and we are drawn to it – drawn to the improbably comforting image of that strange, crude diversity of people huddled around a baby. This incarnates what we know to be true. Life is wild and uncontrollable, unpredictable and gloriously fragile. When we see it altogether, we see it whole – healed of our divisions, our categories, our judgements.
Let us move into 2017 with lives that take shape in light. We can emerge from the cold, lonely, frightening darkness and see ourselves and our life in a new light. This new light is the light of Jesus Christ and an abiding, dependable, stabilising love that transforms. Let’s live with the world as it is – whole, as God created it and especially as God nurtures it in love.