Going All In On Christmas
Today is the feast of St. Thomas, one of the original twelve apostles who has a wildly undeserved and inappropriate reputation as a doubter. You know the story: Thomas was not present when Jesus appeared to the other eleven on Easter evening. Thomas demanded to see and touch Jesus before he would believe. While this earned him the label "doubting Thomas," he knew that unless the resurrection was real, unless it was as hard and unmistakable as the death that robs us of our loved ones, unless it was more than a rosy metaphor, it didn't amount to much. I love Thomas, and I'm deeply grateful for his insistence that we have a faith that, much more than a nice idea, has the power to change everything.
In these final days of Advent, we are staring down another hard to believe set of mysteries: the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, a newborn Messiah who is somehow both fully God and fully human. It's all so incredible, is holding to those doctrines really that important?
For me, the answer is an unequivocal yes. The gospel of Jesus is good news precisely because it reveals the God of love's ultimate power over the laws of logic and physical existence. The absolutely crazy claims we make in affirming things like the Incarnation and the Resurrection remind us that God is not a concept we understand, but a mystery we encounter. The Jesus whose birth we welcome in a few days has the power to save precisely because he is bigger than our limited brains and spirits can neatly wrap themselves around. When I look at the depths of the world's darkness, when I look soberly and wide-eyed at my own sinfulness and limitation, then I know I need a savior who is utterly beyond my ability to understand or imagine. So I don't know if I so much believe the most outrageous of our doctrines as something I do perfectly with my brain, but I have decided to live my life as if they are true.
I have decided to live my life as if they are true because, over and over and over, I have seen light shining in the deepest darkness. I have been shown extraordinary grace by others I have not earned and do not deserve. I have seen love being done against all odds. I have seen relationships reconcile, people find new life after unimaginable loss, and small, quiet acts that make God's presence and reality unmistakable to me. So I'm going all in on Christmas. I'm here for the whole story. The God of the universe showing up in a forgotten place, as a vulnerable baby, to two scared young parents on the run. Those are the cracks where God seeps into the world. I pray that I, and you, and all of us together, might make more space for God to move in and make all things new.
Many blessings and much love,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota