Grace and Peace to you.
Around Christmas time a lot of movies tell you to “Believe,” but they don’t have a clue what to tell you to believe in. It’s not helpful to just haul off and believe any old silly thing. The movies tend to be about believing in Santa Claus, but of course they don’t really mean that. I think sometimes the movie makers themselves don’t believe in anything deeper than entertainment, unless what they really intend to say is not “Believe” but ”Imagine,” or maybe “Honor people’s dreams.”
Still, it seems that Christmas wants to inspire us to believe something. Well, what? The Christmas story has as much fantastic stuff as the Santa story: a virgin birth, angels, magi following a star that somehow stops over an individual house. Are we just supposed to believe all that stuff? Or is there something more significant that we’re supposed to believe? Why is it significant that we believe? And if it’s actually true, why do we need to be told to believe it? Wouldn’t it be obvious?
Here’s what I think the Christmas story invites us to believe. Believe that God is with us, that the Holy One dwells within you. Believe that you are God’s Beloved. Believe that God would forsake the comforts of heaven in order to share your life with you. Believe that God comes to you, suffers with you and stands up for you for the sake of the eternal, inviolable well-being of your soul.
That stuff is hard to believe only because we look with our rational, thinking minds, and can’t see it. This truth we can only see with our souls. It takes practice to see God. But it changes our lives when we do.
The fact is that aside from the highly symbolic parables that Matthew and Luke tell about Jesus’ birth, we know nothing of the conditions of his birth at all. The gospel writers’ point is not history; their point is who Jesus is. I don’t think it matters what you believe about the virgin birth and the manger and all that. It matters what you believe about God. And about yourself and your belovedness, and the world’s.
You are not alone. God comes to you, to save you. God is in the world. Believe that.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes