• John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

Christmas Thoughts toward New Year’s Eve

Not only do I hope that the combination of Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve—two bacchanaliae designed to subvert and submerge any “Christmas feeling” that might linger toward the needs of others—will not utterly crush out any charity in my heart, but I also hope I can remember the True Meaning of Christmas as I make my resolutions on New Year’s Eve.

I hope I can remember cur deus homo: why God became human. God did not do so in order merely to refocus my gaze outward toward the needs of others. God did not do so in order merely to inspire me to holier living and gladder giving. God did not do so in order merely to provide a truly excellent example of sacred service to the world.

Jesus was all those things, to be sure, and those are gifts of his not to be despised. But God became human to save us: that’s why the baby born in the manger was not named, say, “Adam” (as a new exemplar of humanity) but Jesus (“Yahweh saves”): “for he shall save his people from their sins.”

On New Year’s Eve, I do want the Holy Spirit of God to instruct and inspire me as to what needs to change in my life so that I may more closely follow Jesus and more effectively cooperate with God. But I especially need to the Holy Spirit to remind me that the heavy lifting has to be done by God.

ISIS. Ebola. Ferguson. The Ottawa Cenotaph. Luke Magnotta. Climate change. Ukraine. Boko Haram. The Middle East. Pine beetles. The Taliban. Hong Kong. The One Per Cent. The One-Tenth of One Per Cent. Who can even understand these things? Who can correctly prescribe what must be done? Who can do it?

The call of God will be nonetheless rigorous on me, and on us all. Perhaps so severe as to resemble cross-bearing. Even crucifixion.

But, thank God, the main work will be done by the One who shows us at Christmas, as at Easter, that God will do Whatever It Takes to save this world.

So faith, hope, and love abide, these three. And on New Year’s Eve, I want to remember that.

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