I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
– Luke 2:10-11
We celebrate the birth of a Savior, the precious new life that entered into our broken world. The One who had come to rescue all creation arrived in the most humble and ordinary of ways. Through the pain and the tears, the waiting and the pushing, the flesh and the blood, he made his way through the darkness and into the light. A helpless babe – who would save us one day – had been born.
We celebrate the birth of a heavenly kingdom on earth, the new way of life that this baby King ushered in. By clothing himself in flesh and blood, he walked among us, taking upon himself all the brokenness and destruction that humanity had cast upon his creation. He showed us how to carry the pain even as we make our way to glory. He waded through the darkness and shone his light upon every path that he treaded. He healed and restored. He fed the hungry. He invited in the outcasts. He spoke uncomfortable truth to power. He remained faithful to his mission of love and peace even when it cost him his life.
We celebrate the birth of both a baby and a new way of life. We see the beauty and the goodness, the victory and the joy. And yet, we feel the tension. This new kingdom has only just begun. We’ve had a taste of the glory, and it has left us longing for more.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
– Romans 8:22-23
Death and despair. Corruption and oppression. We see it. We carry the weight of its effects. We groan because there are no words to express the heaviness we feel. We have the eyes to see salvation waiting on the other side of tomorrow, but we can’t make tomorrow come any faster. Our feet are stuck in the muck and mire of the broken creation even as we reach out toward the hope of future glory. We can see the light shining in the darkness, but we long for the day when every dark corner will be illuminated. We hope and long even as we cry and moan.
Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
– John 16:20-22
Though we celebrate a birth that took place two thousand years ago, we still feel the labor pains. We still sit in this space where intense pain meets immense joy. At times, we’re not sure if we can push through. We start to doubt that we have the strength to go on. But the joy carries us through – the joy of a Savior, the joy of God with us, the joy of One who will right the wrongs. As we push into the pain that surrounds us, we’re led into his presence. It is here that we find our reason to hope, our breath of peace, our cause for great joy, and our source of love. It is here in the presence of our Savior that we are being made new.