"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever." (Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV).
As we look toward this holiday season I think it's important to remember what Christmas is pointing to. It's easy to allow the Christmas season to become the center of our religious calendar instead of viewing it in its proper context: a marker of the truths of Easter, the resurrection of the body and the coming kingdom of God. Jesus came to earth so long ago, not as a conquering king but as a vulnerable child. Christmas is about Jesus coming into a dirty stable, into the mess that is the world and beginning the kingdom that will one day restore it. And when he returns to restore the earth he will embody everything that Isaiah 9 refers to. So though it may not seem obvious, Christmas is really about gender equality, as it is about equality and justice for all people. Christmas points to the reality that one day our world will be ruled by the risen Christ. In that place, racism, sexism, xenophobia, abuse, and discrimination of any kind will have died with pain, suffering and even death. In that place, we’ll live in perfect harmony with all people and with God forever.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus let us remember the reality of that coming kingdom and not tire in our efforts to usher that kingdom into this world. For we are building now what will be finalized and perfected by Christ upon his return.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Kevin Dooley