For most of my life, I have looked upon a year’s closing as an opportunity to reflect upon the good and the bad, successes and failures of that year. One year especially stands as one of those moments of self-examination, a year when my life came crashing down upon me. I wondered at that time, if God could care or love me in that incredibly painful time. I’ve since learned that God is working hardest in our lives when we hurt most deeply. God’s surprises us in unexpected moments of love, mercy, forgiveness and compassion. I learned that God’s love is greater and more powerful than any other force in our world, for God’s love transcends our hurts, our sorrows, our worst mistakes, our most crushing defeats . . . even death and life.
The good news is that wherever we find ourselves today, we have been given the joy of new beginnings. In Bethlehem, God made a commitment to be with us in all of life’s journeys. In a very real sense, the gift of Christmas is the gift of new life. It is a deep certainty that wherever we find ourselves, whatever our failures or successes, whatever our mistakes, whatever our sins, God has chosen to enter OUR LIVES, to love us and accept us where we are.
We are told that when the Magi came to Jesus, after offering him their gifts, they left and returned “home in another way.” The God who comes to us in our brokenness does not intend to leave us in our grief and sorrow. Neither does God intend to leave us in our self-destructive ways nor in our shame, but rather, to lead us to a new life of meaning and significance. May this New Year be one of trusting God, day by day. As you “return home from Christmas” may you do so is such a way that you are touched by the transforming presence of the one who entered our world in Bethlehem’s Stable.