Christmas for the coming out.
Jn1:1-13; Matt 2:12:-18; Luke 1:38-45
John’s gospel pictures Jesus, as the Word, there before the beginning of time, creating all things that have being, and now coming out to us as God in human form. Not only the “Word of truth”, the gospel of God’s story, but the very essence of God Himself, revealing His true identity to us.
What are the hallmarks of God’s coming out to us? Stepping out of eternity, he wrapped Himself in the vulnerability of an infant babe. He became dependent upon Joseph a confused dad, whose status in society was threatened by a child not of his design, and Mary, a faithful teenage mother, fearful for what was overtaking her own plans and expectations of life. God Himself identified with the vulnerability that we face whenever we are outed, intentionally or otherwise
- will I be hurt?
- will I be understood?
- will I be rejected?
- will I hurt others by being who I am?
The real Christmas story shatters our modern myths of calm, peace and tranquillity. In Matthew’s gospel we see the crowded hustle and bustle of travel. Childbirth in most desperate circumstances of a stable. A context of threatened violence; Herod’s intent was to eliminate the infant Jesus. We see reliance upon parents and friends hearing Godly guidance for His protection. The wise men, hearing God, chose not to return to Herod as they’d promised. His parents heard God and fled to Egypt with the vulnerable young Jesus. We should cherish God’s provision of wise friends and guardians in our lives.
Luke’s gospel tells of the pregnant Mary seeking the love and support of the pregnant Elizabeth, described as her “kinswoman” in the ASV translation. We too can draw on power of love and support from our own kind, our kin. See how John, even within Elizabeth’s womb, ‘leaped for joy’ when Jesus, his own kind, within Mary’s womb came near. As they faced coming out they drew deeply on the support and love of friends.
The vulnerability and violence of Jesus’ birth is echoed by His death; He was scapegoated and marginalised away by religious leaders, brutalised and crucified by political leaders. Where once He’d been protected from violence as a vulnerable babe, now in maturity He makes Himself vulnerable to renounce and triumph over violence. By showing love through all man threw at Him, He showed a new way. An instinctive human behaviour is to hit back, to retaliate, when we are hurt or threatened, which escalates the violence and hatred. But Jesus broke that cycle by accepting violence without retaliation to the very end. God’s love to us utterly overcame and truly came out.
This Christmas, may our coming out, in the smallest or very largest ways, be characterised by vulnerability. As we reveal our inner truth, our identity, our true-selves, may we show love even if we fear violence, and confidence as we know and hold onto the truth. That truth of who God made us to be, and that He loves us. That the almighty God and the creator of all the diversity in creation is for us. That in the incarnation, God in man and man in God, He laid everything bare and came out to us.