December 2012 - Vol.  64

And He Lived Among Us
by Jeanne Therese Hilario Andres

Nine months, she had waited. 

Nine months, a mere flicker in time compared to the entire history of a waiting world. An old, weary world suffering the darkness of sin and separation from its Creator. An anxious, self-destructive world which desired, whether knowingly or not, that which it had never seen, but had only dreamed of — light and salvation. A tired, wounded, waiting world.

But it wasn’t just the world which waited. On the other side of the chasm, a loving Father waited, too. How much he wanted to cross this gulf of sin and scoop up his long-estranged children in his arms! How fervently he yearned to care for them, to reveal himself to them, to wipe away every tear that had fallen from their eyes, to hold them in his arms and let them know that he loves them, has always loved them, and always will. Relentless, changeless, ageless, the Father waited on the brink, His tender gaze never leaving his children, ready to bridge the abyss that separated them from his love. 

The Father waited. The angels waited. Heaven and earth waited. The whole universe waited. Indeed, mankind was never alone in hoping and waiting for this divine birth that would split history in two.

Now, Mary was sure, it was time. The babe inside her womb knew it was time, and her body miraculously set in motion the intensifying waves of contractions to usher in the birth of this bundle of pure light, of perfect love in human form.

With each tightening, with each push, came a heightened longing to see, touch and hold the child she had carried inside her. For nine months, she had fed him with her own body’s food, nourished him, shared the same bloodstream. For nine months, he had been hidden inside the warmth and protection of her womb. Now, very soon, her baby would no longer be sheltered in its blessed hiding place, but would at last be one with the world it had come to save. Very soon, the wait would be over. Very soon, the chasm would be bridged. Very soon, all the ends of the earth would see the saving power of God.

A final push, and as creation holds its breath, the Son of God is born. The silence of the night is pierced by his first lungful of air, His first cry. Mary holds him in her trembling arms, speaks his name, and as she looks into his eyes, He becomes silent, seeking the familiar voice he has known from the womb, gazing for the first time at the face he has loved forever. His eyes meet hers, and unable to contain her joy, Jesus’ young mother softly begins to cry. As her tears fall, Mary praises God in her heart for this beautiful child, born to save mankind, entrusted to her for a little while. Joseph dries Mary’s damp cheeks and celebrates quietly, marveling at the wonder of this birth. The angels rejoice! The universe exults! One can almost picture the Father, still standing at the brink of the narrowing chasm, dancing, laughing, wiping away his own tears, saying, “At last, at last, my children, I am with you once more.”

Advent was not just about us waiting for the birth of Jesus; the Lord himself has been waiting for this moment. The moment when he is, at long last, one with his people. The moment when his children will recognize him, know him, and love him back. The moment when we will realize how much we mean to him, and how much he has given up to save us.

This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord, we hear these words: “The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.” Right now, at this moment, what does this truth mean to you? How does this affect the way you live your life? The choices you make? When you feel alone, alienated, separated from the love of God, reflecting on these words can remind you that by being born as one of us, by living as one of us, by taking on our humanity, Jesus forever tore down the barrier between you and him. When you feel worthless and insignificant, this truth reminds you of how valuable you are in God’s eyes, that for Jesus, you are worth saving, you are worth coming down to earth for, as a tiny, helpless baby.

Dear Jesus, I want to thank you for coming down to earth to save me. When you chose to be born as a man, you made it possible for me to be reconciled with the Father. You have shared in my humanity in all ways except the darkness of sin, and thus, you can feel how I feel, you know my limitations, you understand my heart. On your birthday, Lord Jesus, help me to offer my life, my heart, my choices to you, my Savior. As we celebrate your birth, may I always remember that you came down from heaven out of love for me. Help me to love you back, Lord, with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. Amen.

[Jeanne Therese Hilario Andres (or Nette, as she is more commonly known) is a member of the Antioch Community in London, England, and formerly of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community in Manila, Philippines.  She has written for Christian magazines and devotionals in the Philippines, where she also worked full-time in Christ's Youth in Action. She has recently submitted her doctoral dissertation in chemical engineering, and currently lives in Cambridge, England with her husband, Roberto, and their two sons.] 

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