By Lynne Keating
“He gave power to become children of God to those who believe in His name, who were born, not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
The words of Christmas Scriptures are filled with light and comfort, miracles and encouragement:
“The Lord comforts His people.” (Isaiah 49:13)
“He has spoken to us through the Son.” (Hebrews 1:2)
“The light shines in the darkness.” (John 1:5)
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us!” (John 1:14)
It has been said, however, that a picture is worth a thousand words. How clever God is! When we struggled and stumbled over the Commandments, God sent us a picture—His image—so that there would no longer be confusion about who He is or about our role in His kingdom. He sent us His Son, and that is what we celebrate today.
More than two thousand years later, and well beyond a thousand words, this image, this picture, still unfolds before our eyes in new and astonishing ways in the person of Jesus. No matter how many times we encounter the Word of God, we come face to face with its newness, cutting through the sea of faces and entering directly into our hearts. Just as Peter spoke at Pentecost and all heard in their own language, so do we. Today is a perfect example of that.
In the excitement and spirit of Christmas, eclipsed in the rush of good intentions and honest generosity, lying just below the surface of traditions and inspired music, glimpsed at times deep within the eyes of infants or perceived fleetingly in the silence of the aged, a Truth is present. We who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, are, ourselves, “of God.”
Today’s Gospel is powerful. God gave us the power to become children. Not children born of the logic of human study or science, or of the choice of a person, or because a man or woman has decided so, nor of any other means which could be attributed to mankind. No, indeed! Today’s Scripture assures us that because of this day, because the Word became flesh, we are born “of” God.
In certain religious communities, when a religious sister is ready to take her vows, she is given not only a new name, which the community decides upon; she is also given a title. She will become not simply Sister Mary, but Sister Mary of the Immaculate Conception, or Sister Katherine of the Holy Spirit, or Sister Sarah of the Blessed Sacrament, and so on.
Today we are reminded that we, too, have been given a title. We are “of God.”
I wonder what it would be like to introduce myself at a business meeting, or to new acquaintances, by giving them both my name and my title. What if I had this title printed after my name on my checks, or on the signature line of my letters and email? What would people think? What would they expect of me? More importantly, what would I expect of myself?
What would change about the choices I make, the words I use, my attitude toward others? Would I live my life more deliberately and with clearer intention? Today’s Psalm exhorts us, “Sing to the Lord a new song!” (Psalm 96:1) A new song! Making such changes in the way I live my life would certainly be singing a new song!
As my eyes take in the tiny face of the infant Jesus on this Christmas morning, another beautiful Scripture comes to mind. “… the time for singing has come” (Song of Songs 2:12). I agree. It is time for singing. God has given us the power to become His children. How often do children break into song for the sheer joy of it? What would the world look like if we all began to sing a new song for the Lord?
I think I’ll begin today. Here goes:
To all the wonderful women of WINE and to your families, I wish a very merry Christmas filled with joy! May God bless you abundantly this day. And one last thing: “Sing to the Lord a new song for He has done wondrous deeds!”
Your friend in Christ,
Lynne … of God
Spend some time today and all through the Christmas season singing for joy before the Lord!
About the Author:
Author and blogger Lynne Keating also lectors and teaches the Bible to CCD students at St. John the Beloved Parish in Wilmington, DE. Convinced that this is one of the most exciting and important times in salvation history, her writing encourages all people to recognize and rejoice in God’s self-offering love, revealed more and more through the actions of His people. Visit her at Fellowship of the Lamb.