Third Sunday of Advent
In the early twelfth century, crèche was used to describe the birthplace of Christ. The term was coined after Saint Francis of Assisi celebrated Midnight Mass in a stable where men and animals reenacted the Christmas story. The crèche, derived from the German word krippe or crib, refers to the animals’ manger in which Christ was born.
When we look at the Nativity Crèche today we think of our modern ideas of Christmas, ideas that have roots in the event itself but which did not really develop until Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in December, 1843. Before then, Christmas was another work day. After that, the whole image changed. Small traditions became big.
As mass media developed drawings, paintings and photos of Father Christmas/St. Nichols/Kris Kringle/Santa Claus, they began to take over our thinking of the meaning of the birth of Jesus. Clement Moore’s A visit from Saint Nichols and Thomas Nast’s cartoon of the saint (he was a political cartoonist who also created Uncle Sam, the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey) combined to give us the American version of Santa. Coca Cola modernized the Santa image around 1900.
What does any of that have to do with Isaiah?
Not much. That baby, wrapped in blankets in a manger, came to bring the news to the afflicted, to sooth the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, release to those in prison, to proclaim a year of favour from Yehweh and a day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all who mourn, (to give to Zion’s mourners), to give them for ashes a garland, for mourning-dress, the oil of gladness, for despondency, festal attire. NJB
All of that is packed inside that baby. Salvation comes from God through the least of these. Like the child David killing the giant Goliath with a sling shot, God saves the world with a baby.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. KJV John, before his birth, was set aside to be a witness to the Light of God. He told everyone who would listen that God placed his Messiah on the earth and we must listen to him.
Christmas is a happy time, a time to thank God for his Great Gift. We can enjoy the images and traditions; we can have fun, but we must not forget the promise. Our gifts to the world must be to sooth, proclaim, release, comfort, and give. Above all, we must love.
Be righteous and do good.