In these days of religious division and intolerance, we can find the lines of separation drawn even amongst those who profess and call themselves “Christians.”
It is with a sense of irony that I have observed that these fault lines tend to be along secular, political and even of personal taste, more than the doctrinal or dogmatic issues of religion.
One might offer that our most testy disagreements are about the practice of religion, rather than the living out of our faith.
By “religion” I mean, the dogmas that others give to us and tell us that such define our relationship to God, unlike “faith” which is a gift from God and generates from within ourselves as a response. One is a position statement, the other a transformation that calls for a response.
The Christmas Season, and particularly Christmas Day, demands that we take our religious justifications, our judgements about others, our attempts at setting ourselves above others, and put them all aside. This Holy Day calls us to consider a foundational understanding we share in our common faith — “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life…” [John 3:16]
God became as one of us, robed in flesh, in order to better offer love to His Children, literally embrace that which He created. He who was spirit, became incarnate (made flesh), joining the divine with the human, in the birth of Jesus, the Christ.
This act of love on the part of God, begs a personal response from us. This Holy Day’s celebration requires a Holy response as well. It calls us to ask the impact of God’s coming into the world on us, personally. How has our own life been affected? As Jesus came into the world to share God’s love, we too are called to follow in His example, rejoicing in, and sharing love and reconciliation with God, not separation and judgement.
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” [John 3:17]
This is Good News indeed! Worthy of putting aside differences, as we focus on a core tenant of our common Christian Faith, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” [Luke 2:11]
The Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor is rector at Trinity Episcopal Church.
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