BRADY COLUMN: Been there and done that, really?

Published 9:30 am Saturday, December 17, 2022

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As he was rushing through an airport, a minister friend said he saw a young man wearing a T-shirt with these words on the front: “Been there! Done That! Got the T-shirt! Do you ever get the feeling that when it comes to Christmas, you’ve kind of been there and done that? It’s the same old story told in the same old way. Nothing ever changes. You don’t expect anything new or different to happen, and you are not disappointed.

On the other hand, I expect that many of us want to believe that this Christmas event is important. We want to believe it matters-and not just 2000 years ago but right here and now. With this in mind, I want us to hear afresh the words of the writer of John’s Gospel. He declares that Christmas is God’s attempt to get through to us. Listen as John says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).  The writer is saying that the true meaning of Christmas is found in the coming of Jesus to the earth. Consequently, if we want to understand the true meaning of Christmas, we need to understand why Jesus came.

First, Jesus came to clear up our confusion about God! The most persistent quest of humankind has been for a more perfect knowledge of God. “Oh, that I knew where I might find him” (Job 23:3)) is the longing not only of Job but also of the deepest recesses of the human spirit itself. Then suddenly, there he is on Christmas Day! “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” 

Now, Jesus didn’t tell us everything about the mystery of God. But he did uniquely reveal God. Jesus told us who God is and what God is like. As the late preacher and teacher Paul Scherer observed, “And God walked down the stairs of Heaven with a little baby in his arms.”

Second, Jesus came to offer us a new possibility! Not long ago I was sitting in a meeting of community leaders. We were discussing matters of justice. One man stated, “It’s all a matter of the heart. Everyone has good and bad in our lives. The real important thing is to enable the good to overcome the bad. How? The writer of John adds, “But to all who received Him [Jesus], who believe in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”

Third, Jesus came to remind us that we are family! I think the “Word became flesh not only for us but for all humankind as well. Consequently, one of the great additional meanings of Christmas is that we are family. Christmas clears up out confusion about how we are to relate to other people. And certainly this is a message desperately needed in our fearful world of today. In the midst of wars, violence. shootings and turmoil, fear and suspicion and prejudice, Chrismas comes with its beautiful reminder that we are family. If someone were to ask us how to best define family? We could just live out the meaning of family, which includes understanding, respect, justice, forgiveness, comfort, reconciliation, prayer and commitment-“loving your neighbor as yourself.”  Yes, Jesus came to clear up our confusion about God, to offer us a new possibility, and to remind us that we are family. A blessed Christmas season to you all!