Emmitsburg Council of Churches


Historical Meaning at Christmas

Psalm 52:9 "Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem."

In my little town of Emmitsburg, Maryland, one can view many parts of the town as historical reference points. There is an old car garage in the middle of town, which once was the pride and joy of every one wanting to get one of those new-fangled Model "T" Fords. Directly behind this 20th century garage is an old rock wall, which could date back to colonial times. For that matter those stones could have been walked over by the Native American people who once called this land their home. Perhaps several hundred million years ago these same stones were strewn through the air from the nearby volcanic formation up at Blue Ridge Summit to land in this place. Taking the idea from the psalmist that even the ruins of the city of Jerusalem can cry out with rejoicing at "God's coming" is a powerful metaphor of awakening for us. The oldest among us have been here for maybe 75-80 years, 90 or more if we've been blessed with good health!

But how are we, of relatively few years, responding to the message of God's coming? Every day we are challenged to hear and act on the new revelation that God is coming to us. He comes as a powerful light to the nations, but also in the form of one who is so gentle that he will not extinguish a smoldering wick.

When we hear the announcement about Christ's birth, will we respond like the "ruins of Jerusalem" in the psalmist's words? Will we cry out, "Glory to God!"? Are we the least bit excited about the ways in which God is speaking to us today as we are made aware that there is yet work to be done and God's word to fulfill in our own times?

Perhaps, at this Christmas time, while we are feeling cozy and comforted by the surroundings of friends and family and the warmth of the fire and the Christmassy lights all around us . . . we can also contemplate the meaning of God's work being accomplished throughout the ages. From the work of creation to the teaching of Christ's ideals: Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, forgive one another in love, and uphold justice for the poor. Perhaps we would do well to put all the wrappings and trimmings of our Christmas festivities aside for a while and consider who it is that has come into the world and what it is that we are called to do in response? For he came then even as he comes to us now -- Christ is born into a world of increasing injustice, poverty, suffering and hatred.

Draw on the past people! Sift through the annals of history and see what is really lasting! Listen, look, and see if it is not the good news that God loves us and has called us to be his own people, a people of his own heart and intent -- this is the real significance of the season. Then work on ways to respond to that call with the same excitement and vitality as the "ruins of Jerusalem" cried out at the revealing of the coming of the Lord. May we all be renewed and revitalized as our faith is charged with a response to this Christmas season.

Amen. Peace to you and all the world,

Pr. Jon