Well, the day is almost here! Through four weeks of Advent, the church has gathered to remember that in the person of Jesus, God came into our world. In fact, Christians believe that the story of Jesus has overtaken our stories in such a way that we are a part of his story; we are now a living part of God’s sacred narrative. There are numerous children’s stories that illustrate this same concept. “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” even “The Wizard of Oz” and “Alice in Wonderland”; they all depict what happens when children enter a story in which their lives get caught up in a great drama.
For us to enter into the story of Christmas is to realize that there is a far greater drama going on around us than just our own lives. And we really can’t resist getting caught up in this great drama. Our struggles with life and work are all mixed into the life and work of God. To use the image from John’s Gospel, we look for the light in the midst of the darkness, and throw our energies, our very selves into the work of spreading that light.
When do you think the story of your life begins? With the next chapter? When you graduate from college or get a better job? When you get married, or have children or when you move into a bigger house? If you’ve already experienced these things and you’re still searching for what life is about, you could say, Life begins at 50, or, as someone once said to me, Life begins when the kids move out, the dog dies and you get rid of the big house. Or maybe life begins when you retire or when you have grandchildren … You can keep waiting for life to begin until it’s over.
People of faith claim that the story of our lives began before we did. And the gospel truth is that your life began not even with your parents or grandparents or a long line of generations before you. Our lives began with God’s dreams. “All things came into being through him,” we are told in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, “and without him, not one thing came into being.”
People worry about protecting Christmas from the secular world, but the true meaning of Christmas is that there is no division between the sacred and the secular. Nothing is outside the drama of God’s activity in the world. Not your job. Not your relationships. Not the disease that has invaded your body. Not Syria or Afghanistan, not climate change or the many fires that ravaged the western U.S. this summer. Not one thing is beyond this drama of life and the world and God …
So I would encourage you to enter the story. Try to discover what role you have to play in this ongoing drama. Allow your life to become entwined with the sacred story of God entering our world. It’s when life truly begins.
Jonathan Eastman is the pastor of the Presbyterian Church of St. Helena.