In the Christmas compline we repeatedly sing out the reason that we celebrate the Nativity: God is with us. But this year I find that the accompanying exhortation particularly resonates with me. “Rozumite” translates as a plea (or demand?) to understand—grasp, fathom—the unfathomable reality of God joining us as a fellow human being! We can say it: “GOD IS WITH US.” Yet, getting our head around this is an ongoing process for for over 2 thousand years.
Somehow we have inherited a misleading notion of God as a mighty controller, deciding when or not (and how) we live, suffer, and die. This idea of God is simply not the message of the Gospels. God in
Christ demonstrated that God WITH us, does not mean that human events are manipulated; tragedy, illness, pain remain a constant in our lives. Christ demonstrates that God is in us—in you, in me. Also, easily said, but less easily grasped. I believe we crumple before the need to really comprehend this, because it seems to demand so much from us. Christ asks us to follow his example. We know what happened to him! Accepting that God is with us is in effect accepting that God “is us”—our responsibility—and frankly that seems more than a bit daunting.
We sing in the baptismal hymn that we have “put on” Christ. There it is. In our regular ordinary lives, we, when we can let ourselves accept God’s love for us, in our ordinary humanness, in our ordinary brokenness and daily less-than-perfect routines, schedules, sicknesses, and irritations, Divine love lives through us, whether we know it or not; God is with us regardless of who we are, but we can enjoy so much more contentment when we channel the peace and strength that living love can bring. It’s not a one shot decision; there is no formula or doctrine to follow Christ. It is as simple and as daunting as each day, context, and event presents. Living love, it seems, is desiring, trying, to be open to love in myself and in others. We help each other to be Christ in the smallest acts of kindness. . .
In the words of Mother Teresa: “People are often unreasonable and self centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. .”