Our earthly families are often marked by divorce, dysfunction and emotional mess. We may be aware of this most of all at Christmas. Here it helps to remember that our deepest belonging is not to our relatives. We have now been adopted into the heavenly family.
We are often in the habit of telling God what is good. Yet what do we really know and how do we know it? Everything we know that is good, true or meaningful we only discovered because God revealed it to us.
Christmas is a time of year where people feel the benefit of religion, traditions and rituals. Yet we should not forget how revolutionary the incarnation truly is. Our rituals are only important in so much as they point to Jesus. Religion has been replaced by relationship.
‘Ave Maria’ is a Latin Catholic song describing how blessed Mary was for carrying the Son of God. She is uniquely blessed for being the only person ever to have this responsibility. But her privilege is not so different to ours. God has chosen now to inhabit us!
The book of Matthew begins and ends with the same pronouncement: ‘God is with us’. Why does God continue to remind us of this truth? Because we desperately need to hear it. From birth to death and beyond, God is with us and He wants us to know it.
At first glance the sweet natured lyric of ‘Away in a Manger’ seems overly sentimental. But I think that the song’s rosy-eyed depiction of Jesus birth reveals something we all want — for everything to be okay.