Christmas — December 25, 2010
Isaiah 52.7-10 | Psalm 98 | Hebrews 1.1-6 | John 1.1-18

Ralph Himsl

December 20, 2010

As if roused from a reverie over her cooling cup of coffee, she mused, "Our good old Christmas still has a lot going for it." Deep in the hubbub of what the commercial world has established as "the season of giving," the remark seemed timely.

Still, as her usual coffee drinking companion, it surprised me. Knowing her thoughtful nature I said, "Indeed. Tell me more."

"Look at it this way. What we have at Christmas started months before with the Annunciation, that stunning announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit.

"And we celebrate the incarnation of God and man in the birth of the person, Jesus. Three things come together in a way: the Annunciation, the Incarnation and the Nativity. No wonder we find it a time of joy."

"Wow!" I said amazed at her grasp of things. "Tell me more. Tell me about joy as you see it."

‘Let all God’s angels worship him’

Hebrews 1.6

"All right! Three examples plus one. Stay with me.


"First. Remember how people reacted to the election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the U.S.? Except for Republicans there, I saw joy in everyone and felt it myself. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in an unprecedented act from the usually sober, now joyful Norwegian committee?

"Second: Think of the rescue of the 33 Chilean copper miners as an occasion for joy. The heroism of the trapped men and the coming of rescue resources and personnel from around the world showed human beings at their best. Humans often have lousy behaviour without apparent cause, but when they are good as on this occasion, 'they are very very good."

"Good examples. Go on."

"The third you can find on YouTube, 'Free Hugs in Sondrio.' Six young people come onto a cobbled street in the town. It looks like a popular spot for pedestrians with its strollers, wheelchairs, toddlers, tourists, street musicians, bicycles, backpacks. They carry handmade signs swinging this way and that to catch attention. 'Free Hugs, Abbracci Gratis, Abbracci Liberi, Regalo Abbracci.'


"At first, the people on the street watch them guardedly. Some turn away embarrassed, others wave them off. But cheery persistence of these enthusiastic conspirators pays. They make eye contact. Their wholesomeness wins accepting glances and inviting gestures. They hurry, open armed to delighted citizens and visitors and a warm embrace filled moment.

"Catching the mood, the video carries Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah - God be praised! It looks like joy to me. It brings tears to my eyes."

"In explaining joy, I spoke of three plus one. Now the plus one: as an RN, I often observe a mother at the presentation of her newborn. She takes the babe across her breast. She turns her head down slightly and to the side to see her prize.

"She smiles in such a way and murmurs, 'Perfect,' as Mary did at the sight of her firstborn."

"You did it! Thanks!

"Joy to the world!"