I love this time of year. Log fires, christmas plans, advent carols, and christmas music - they combine to create a beautiful season. Yet I always find Christmas deeply paradoxical. On the one hand, we are looking forward to a baby arriving (every parent remembers that extraordinary feeling); on the other hand, this is one of those rare births where we know how it will end – in a grisly crucifixion. It is a known future, which we will mark with deep seriousness through the Church calendar. It is always a shock to me how quickly we move from the joy of Christmas to journey of Lent, culminating in Easter week. The joy of the birth turns into tears of sadness as we walk the final week of the life of Jesus.
Yet the paradox is also the truth of the season. We trust this is the divine revelation of redemptive love. The baby is the embodiment of God; the life witnesses to the love of God; and the dying Christ is the redemption of the world. I love that Christmas song "Mary did you know?" by Mark Lowry and those lines - "Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb? This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am." It captures something of the mystery of this moment.
So to all readers of the commentary may this break be a gift to you and those you love. And for those of us who have received the gift of faith, may we pause and meditate afresh on the extraordinary claim that in a babe born in Bethlehem is the very salvation of the world.
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. Dean and President