The following essay was written by Bruce Epperly and originally posted at Transforming Theology. It is reposted with permission.. I find it to be a helpful reflection on the meaning of Christmas.
Soon we will celebrate the twelve days of Christmas…a time of wonder, miracle, and amazement…a time of incarnational presence….God truly among us, in us, and surrounding us…not coming down from above, but emerging within a world God that has always been God-filled….
Often we Progressives expect too little of God and, accordingly, too little of ourselves as God’s living embodied presence in the world. Years ago, I struggled with the Westminster/John Knox press’s title of one of my books – God’s Touch: Faith, Wholeness, and the Healing Miracles of Jesus. I struggled with the word “miracle,” worried that the use of the word would suggest that I believed in supernatural interventions by an otherwise absent God. Today, I believe the word “miracle” needs to be reclaimed by progressive Christians in terms of the energetic, lively, quantum leaps that transform our lives and the world. Surely, God is part of this process: if we have volition and vision, so does God. If we are more “present” in some places than others, so is God. The incarnation reminds us that although God’s revelation is universal (John 1:1-5, 9), God’s revelation is also variable. In the wondrous divine and human call and response, God whispered a word to Mary and Joseph and they said “yes” not without doubt or fear, but with courageous affirmation. Could they have been uniquely prepared to encounter the holy through dreams and messengers? Could a “space” have been opened by their faith that enabled God to act more dynamically and energetically in their lives and in the life of their child Jesus than in other places? And, could this child have emerged as unique, a focal point of Divinity arising from the ever-fecund matrix of divine revelation and inspiration?
In our desire to be “naturalistic,” we may forget that the “natural” may be much more lively than we can imagine….that the whole universe and the living God conspire to create each occasion of experience and that there is inspiration and energy beyond our current beliefs available to us. The miracle is the divine presence itself – focused on a little Child and also the Christ in us – as well as the Holy Adventure of 100 billion galaxies.
At Christmas, let us both expect and accept miracles of wonder and joy, as we travel on God’s Holy Adventure.
Bruce Epperly is Director of Continuing Education and Professor of Practical Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary and co-pastor of Disciples United Community Church in Lancaster, PA. He is the author of sixteen books, including “Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living.” (Upper Room, 2008).