Christmas Message 2017

A Life-Changing Rupture

Waterfalls! They come in different sizes and shapes and are often beautiful to behold.

Few can exceed the splendor of the waterfalls at Foz do Iguaçu in Parana, Brazil. The sheer scope of the falls! Millions of liters of water cascading over cliffs firm as granite. Water flowing on and on, kilometer after kilometer, year in, year out! Awed by its haunting beauty and the splendid variety on display, one may recall distinct moments in salvation history.

At points, the waterfalls awaken memories of the dawn of creation when God separated the waters of chaos and formed the earth. God created space for nature to sparkle and creatures to thrive, each taking care of the other in the well-dressed garden of life.

At other points, the waterfalls inspire memories of life’s journey through the threatening waters that expose our vulnerability, but also open our eyes to God’s sovereign grace toward the people whom God chooses. The people of Israel crossed over the waters of chaos unharmed. They experienced the sacred journey taken by the people of God right throughout history under the protection of the one who is able to deliver us from peril or danger.

Especially at the end of the journey, carved by human beings for about two kilometers along the edge of a mountain that absorbs all this beauty day and night, the waterfalls cease merely to cascade. They simply leap with fury over what appear to be flint-like rocks and then tumble mercilessly on the ground. The waterfalls crash to another level with shrieks, splashing anyone who dares to come near.

The waterfalls can remind one of the rupture that takes place in the womb of those whom the Creator grants the precious gift of childbearing. The water breaks and out comes new life with all its mystery and promise and hope.

In the case of Mary, as a mere teenager, she had come face to face with mystery when the divine messenger told her of the beautiful, yet frightening, thing God was doing in her. Shocking words yielded a calm response of readiness to follow the will of the Lord.

Then later, in Bethlehem, that great and memorable day, her water broke and out came the mysterious one whom she placed in a manger. Born in obscurity, his appearing heralded a mighty rupture in human history.

Screaming as new-born babies do, Jesus escaped the safety of the womb of a loving mother to face the world with all its woes. He learned early the ravages of the life of a refugee. Later, he wandered as a homeless person. Still later, he offered his life as a result of a travesty of justice. Meanwhile, he put on display how love leads to life, how forgiveness covers sin, how abundant life trumps fearful death.

The waters that broke that first Christmas morn paved the way for life that not even death can destroy. Calvary could not snuff out that life; it remains a mere pathway to an empty tomb. Death gave way to resurrection victory.

What, above all, the waterfalls at Iguaçu bring to mind is the good news that Christmas is about a rupture in time and space, a mighty rupture mediated by raging waters cascading from the womb of a Virgin mother. It is about a great change in the course of history, a historic event that has the power to transform the trajectory of every human life and every community.

The baby whose coming we celebrate is Immanuel, God with us! How has the glorious news of Christmas changed you and those you love?

Neville Callam
General Secretary
December 2017

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