The Hopes And Fears At Christmas
"The hopes and fears from all the years are met in thee tonight."
That lovely lyric from the Christmas hymn is one of the most beautiful ever penned. They encompass almost all of the human experience and remind us that Jesus' birth introduced the world to a presence of the divine in a very relational package. It sings to the optimistic yearnings of the soul and the enslaving response of the soul toward terror. Its haunting scope spans past, present, and future. It is simply beautiful.
In the manger where divinity and humanity supernaturally fused it is only fitting that hope and fear find their natural juxtaposition. We humans are frail and full of fear. We expect the worst and crumble when it arrives.
But we look toward the divine for hope. We ask for blessings and reassurance, for safety and prosperity, for the love that will not abandon us. It is the role to be fulfilled by Jehovah God and his contract was a baby lying in a feed trough.
From wooden box to wooden cross.
The hopes and fears of the world may have been represented in the nativity but they were juxtaposed on a hill called The Place of the Skull. In one hand the hope of reconciliation and friendship. In the other hand the failure of trying to deliver ourselves. Both hands nailed to a cross.
The cross was simultaneously triumph and defeat. It was finished. But it was just beginning. We fear the end. We hope for another beginning. In the cross we have both. Because we have both - the hopes and the fears, the triumph and defeat - we have a pledge that God has recognized the human condition and has empathized with it. He has not deemed it worthy to present himself as the ultimate winner and people as exclusively losers. He purposefully tasted forced humility and defeat so that we too know that God loves us and understands us.
Christmas was just the beginning. Let's remember that. Now is the time when we celebrate the opening pages of the story of Jesus. And for those that follow him it's the beginning of our story too.