|When we think of Christmas, it’s hard not to think about children. It seems like a holiday for those who are carefree and innocent. We love watching their wonder and joy throughout the season. |
But in Luke’s gospel, he starts with the old people. Well, not the really old people, more likely middle-aged. People for whom wonder and joy seem to be far away. People who have grown a little cynical. Zechariah and Elizabeth had been married for many years, but without children. Beyond social judgement, they would have suffered with their own disappointment and sadness. Yet they were faithful to God and continued to serve him. One day as Zechariah is chosen to serve in the Holy of Holies, everything changes. Their long-awaited dream, perhaps even a dead dream comes true. After many long years, God has answered their prayer for a son. (Luke 1:5-25)
Luke isn’t finished. He does include the really old people, the senior citizens. People who longed to hear from God but aged while waiting. Simeon, waiting for God’s promise to him, is moved by the Spirit to visit the temple. He lays eyes on Jesus and suddenly he is at peace. Anna spent years of her widowhood hanging around the temple in prayer and fasting. That same day the Spirit reveals the Messiah to her. God has indeed spoken and answered their heart’s desire. (Luke 2:22-40)
Many spiritual and faithful people have, at times, felt that God is hidden or silent. Anguishing prayers of sorrow, crying out to God are found in the Psalms and in the lives of many saints. Amid pain and questions about life, God seems to be absent. Why doesn’t he answer our prayers? Theologians even have a term for that – Dues Absconditus, the God who hides himself.
There will be times when we feel we are in the dark of night, forgotten in some way. There will be times in our advancing age when we begin to lose hope in the promises of God. This season is a reminder that we shouldn’t give up that hope. The ‘Advent to Christmas’ movement is all about God who breaks his own silence and comes to earth in person. John tells us, “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who dwells in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” (John 1:18)
Christmas is not just for children. It is for all those who are waiting for God to speak, to answer a prayer. The foundation of our hope is found in a baby laid in a manager. God has broken his silence, he has come.