Every great launch, whether of a mighty ocean liner, a new car model, or a ground-breaking Apple product is greeted with great anticipation and fanfare.
That’s why the heavens filled with angels on Christmas Eve. All heaven and earth, all creation had been waiting on tiptoe for this moment: the launch of God’s effort to redeem us and all creation from the corrupting evil which touches everyone and everything. Angels sing; shepherds worship; kings bow down before a baby whose birth marks the new beginning for creation through his coming reign. In Jesus, God has begun his great work of setting things right. In him salvation has dawned.
In anticipation of this moment centuries before, the prophet Isaiah spoke of the reversal of the curse that mars all of life. In his vision the degradation of earth and humanity into hostility and death are swept away in a new beginning marked with peace and justice, light and life. “The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:7-9)
Now, in God’s only begotten son, Jesus, this great work has begun. God’s reign is invading and reversing the curse. It begins as tiny as a mustard seed, as small as an infant in a manger. In Jesus, heaven and earth meet. In Jesus the power of heaven pierces history to transform it. In Jesus, God redeems the world. It begins with a baby and it grows and grows and grows as God’s spirit hovers over new creation.
The Spirit who is breath, life and power is breathing life into God’s re-creation and into all who open their hearts to God’s new work in Jesus. God invites us to join in God’s “setting things right” movement to be agents of peace and reconciliation, to seek justice for all, to create beauty. God invites us to welcome new life, joy and hope into our hearts. All this is our gift through Emmanuel, God with us whose birth we celebrate in this festive season.
Let us join our voices with those of the angels and all creation in praise: “Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.”
Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, General Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA