– Ronald Reagan
It seems incongruous to privilege the words of the most powerful person in the world on the day we celebrate the birth of one of the least. But that’s how it is with Christmas, a major disruption for clear thinking about the first and the last. Jesus reordered the pecking order.
Still, there is truth in President Reagan’s observation that “Christmas is a state of mind, found throughout the year, whenever faith overcomes doubt, hope conquers despair, and love triumphs over hate.” Words like these proliferate as December draws to a close, and many politicians will count themselves among those who revere what Jesus reveres. In this way they seek to identify with the people.
Jesus identified with us in tangible fact, a victim of political intrigue in the machinations of the powerful, first at his birth, and then at his death. For now we remember with gratitude the gift of embodied love he gave to the world that does triumph over hate if we invite this same love into our hearts.
That a President would kneel at such a cradle is a startling image, and we could wonder what that might mean for the sake of the world. For that matter, we could imagine ourselves in the same posture at the same stable and consider what it might mean for our lives.
Prince or pauper, there is no qualification at the stable’s entry. It’s best if we enter in humility. That way we might recognize the family resemblance of everyone who’s there…
Prayer: Holy God, our hearts overflow in gratitude and wonderment! All praise and thanks to you! Amen.