Christmas Eve: Joy Amongst the Ruins

BonhoefferLast Sunday night I quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer at the opening of the service. A couple of weeks before we’d been thinking about what it means for us, as Christians, to be Living Between Two Worlds. We have begun to enjoy our inheritance through Jesus Christ, but we still live in this fallen world, confronted by and embroiled in all of its sin, pain, injustice and suffering.

We all come with different personal feelings to the Christmas festival. One comes with joy as he looks forward to this day of rejoicing, of friendships renewed, and of love. Others look for a moment of peace under the Christmas tree, peace from the pressures of daily work. Others again approach Christmas with great apprehension. It will be no festival of joy to them. Personal sorrow is painful especially on this day for those whose loneliness is deepened at Christmastime.

Despite it all, Christmas comes. Whether we wish it or not, whether we are sure or not, we must hear the words once again: Christ the Savior is here! The world that Christ comes to save is our fallen and lost world. None other.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1930), From God Is In the Manger (pp. 54-55)

These words were cast into stark relief by what happened in George Square on Monday. There are so many people who have received bad news in the last few days, for whom Christmas will be no festival of joy. It is important for us as Christians that we don’t bury our heads in the sand, even at times like Christmas. We worship amongst the ruins of this fading world, awaiting its renewal, rejoicing in God, giving thanks for Jesus, yet all the time opening ourselves as Jesus did to its need. Despite it all, Christmas comes. Despite it all, Jesus Christ has come. And so we rejoice, we await the coming new creation, and we enjoy the gifts of God. We embrace the tension of Living Between Two Worlds.

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