Dear Friends in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina,
I think God is afraid I won’t get it. One year, twenty minutes before a Christmas Eve service was to start, a woman and her two small children showed up at the church to ask for food. Another year, a young woman of 17 called me on Christmas Eve to tell me she was pregnant and was terrified to tell her parents. Then there was another Christmas Eve when I drove into the church parking lot to find a young man standing on the parish hall landing, who had just been released from prison and had no money to get home.
Based on the above, perhaps you are thinking that I am going to say that Christmas is about helping people. Well, yes, but it is much more and goes far deeper. It seems that God is trying to tell me that the truth of the Manger is found precisely in people like the three mentioned above, and the sermons this preacher needs to hear or see are those right in front of me. God has appeared in these broken, vulnerable people. They are the presence of Christ and it is as if God is saying, “If you cannot see me in them, then you will not see me in the Manger either.”
In the Manger, God becomes touchable and seeable, flesh and blood. It also means that God becomes woundable and killable, thinking ahead to Good Friday. Yet taking that risk has appeared and does appear in broken bread and a cup of wine, in a newborn child or a family feast, in a kind word spoken or in Holy Scriptures, in a pregnant teenager, a man just released from prison, or a hungry family.
The Manger proclaims that God loves us in our humanity and is for us in brokenness as well as joy. May we be willing to touch the Christ, however he appears, knowing that he first comes to touch us. Secure in God’s embrace, we embrace the world he came to save.
A holy and blessed Christmas to all,
The Rt. Rev. Gladstone B. Adams III