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Wonders of the Small Church

The small church has incredible importance and value, although it may not carry the pomp of churches in Europe and elsewhere. I have one particular small church in mind: ours.

The icon of the Nativity of our Lord is of him lying in a manger, helpless, in the dark of night, in need of total sustenance; in poverty and helplessness, he appears to us.

Jesus Christ comes to us as the poorest of the poor, as the most helpless of all creation, surrounded by animals he himself created. Our minds become fixed on this innocent child, our hearts are moved to compassion, and we lovingly accept this child, the Savior of the world. We embrace and kiss him with the same love a parent receives their own new-born child. As an adult however, it becomes more difficult. Things change. The joy of accepting him as child is easy compared to the pain and struggle of receiving him as the Son of God, not simply as a man, but as God taking on flesh. That though mystifies us, it frightens us; so we back away, and we reject him.

Every Christian accepts Christ as a child, a living being. The same is less true of him being a man, of his being the divine and Incarnate Son of God. Yet it is precisely this dichotomy which needs to be reconciled and repaired in our hearts. Christ comes as a dazzling and brilliant, so “that we may become sons of light” (John 12:36). His light illumines and pierces through the darkness, so that we, too, can possess the light.

Christ, in fact, plunges into our lives as Light – “God is Light: (I John 1:5) – so that we can know Him, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

Ignorance leads to arrogance, which leads to confusion, which leads to chaos, and plunges us into darkness and misery. Despair overcomes us, and there is no hope. There is only darkness, which ultimately leads to death, perhaps not in a physical manner, but in a spiritual way that severs our relationship with God.

Although Christ was born once and for ever, and certainly is in no need to do it again, he does so.

Christ is born today.

The angels in heaven sing today.

The wise men bear gifts today.

The celebration of our Lord’s Birth is not simply the commemoration of a past event. It happens now, again, and it serves to transform us. Christ was born into a darkened world, and enters into it as Divine Light. And that light produces peace and joy, which produces communion with the Father. Then by virtue of possessing the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we ourselves become light.

In our relationships with others, especially those with our family and friends, and indeed even with our enemies, let us pray that we may become light to them; and that in the final analysis, let us hope that the radiance of God’s Incarnation consumes a fallen creation, a whole which both accepts and rejects Christ at this moment.

May the Light of Christ’s Nativity, which illumines our own small lives, illumine the entire world.

Then perhaps, just maybe, there will be peace on earth, and good will among men.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

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