We Quakers are in a good position to respond to the Christmas season. With our dual nature of being both Friends of Jesus and those who quake in the presence of the living God, at our best we bring together both the imminence and transcendence of God. Thomas Kelly described the early Quakers as being “ablaze with the message of the greatness and the nearness of God.”
Christmas demands we bring together the nearness and greatness of God. God sent Jesus in an intimate, down-to-earth form—as a helpless baby, needing to be held, changed, fed. That’s the imminence part, God’s nearness to the human condition.
The angels and shepherds got the transcendence part right. I love the King James description of the shepherds being “sore afraid,” uniting pain with terror. More than a helpless baby, this child was the Lord of lords and King of kings in unlikely disguise. Something for the heavenly hosts to shout “Hallelujah!” about.
Sunday in programmed worship, Cherice Bock, our message-bearer, quoted G. K. Chesteron: “Man is bored to death listening over and over to a story he has never heard.” As we listen again to the Christmas story, which we have all heard over and over, I invite you to join me in opening the “eyes of our hearts,” and seeing afresh in the baby, Emmanuel, God with us. Then let us, in the words of the old hymn, become “lost in wonder, love and praise.”