“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children …” Gal. 4:4
Those are the words that come to us on the first Sunday of Christmas, this coming Sunday — Paul, writing to a community of early followers in Galicia. By all accounts Paul is writing his letters to early, mostly home, churches with the simple, critical message. The fullness of time arrived. God became man, as a baby.
His writings are thought to have been written before the final form of most of our Gospels.
No shepherds. No heralding angels. No frightened shepherds or Magi following an astral phenomenon. The moment for God to act arrived.
Paul cut to the chase with the heart of the miracle. God took on the most vulnerable form – a baby – for us.
That is the message. The reason is almost as basic. Just as God arrived in the form of a child, he did so to adopt US as his children.
A transcendent, distant God, is difficult to relate to. We humans are relational creatures. Our relationship with our creator is most real when it’s personal. The message is simple: He is come as one of us, to be one with us.
I love my memory-laden LED-lit artificial tree (allergies made me abandon real ones almost two decades ago). I cry over sappy Christmas stories that always somehow end well, and ALWAYS carry the most basic message of all – the power and miracle of love.
This Covid Christmas will be one for the history books. Books are even now being written. Generations from now our children and grandchildren will be sharing their stories and memories of Christmas 2020 in the middle of the worst global pandemic in over one hundred years.
This isn’t the first time Christmas arrives in the middle of dark days of winter, in a pandemic, a war, or the aftermath of some massive disaster. God comes anyway. Not on our time schedule, or according to all our well-crafted plans.
We are still within the fullness of time when God has acted, God is acting, God will keep on acting.
Stay home. Stay safe.
This may not be the Christmas you wanted.
It is the one we are given.
Rev. Elaine Silverstrim is a retired Episcopal priest, a member of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association, and a resident of Wilmington.
This weekly column is provided to the News Journal by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.