During the Advent season, I shared some of the things I want to give God this year:
1. Undivided Attention
The fifth item on my gift list for God is this: Glory and Praise.
Christmas calls us back to the Judean hillsides and sits us down among those shepherds who heard the angels’ song: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and goodwill to all people." God still tears open the skies for us. The angel host sings to God "glory!" And, to us they sing "peace and goodwill." It's a simple song and a simple message: Glory is for God and peace and goodwill is for us.
When we forget that, which from the looks of things happens quite often, we tend to get the tables turned so that we think we get the glory and God is entitled to peace and goodwill in the heavenly places with all those souls we no longer have to cope with. This year, I want the tables to be turned back to the way God intended.
People who wanted glory crucified the Word made flesh. In our own quest for glory, we still do that. Theologian Nathan D. Mitchell offers a sobering reminder that the Christ of the Crib is also the Christ of the Cross.
Christmas calls a community back to its origins by remembering Jesus' own beginnings as a human child, a prophet of God's reign, a judgment on the world and its projects. What the parish celebrates during this season is not primarily a birthday, but the beginning of a decisive new phase in the tempestuous history of God's hunger for human companions. The social concerns of the season are thus rooted in Jesus' proclamation of God's reign: the renunciation of patterns that oppress others and the formation of a new human community that voluntarily embraces those renunciations. It is an Adult Christ that the community encounters during the Advent and Christmas seasons: a Risen Lord who invites sinful people to become church. Christmas does not ask us to pretend that we were back in Bethlehem, kneeling before a crib; it asks us to recognize that the wood of the crib became the wood of the cross.
This year, I want to be sure to give God glory and praise. And, as always, God wants to give all people on earth peace and goodwill. That is the essence of salvation! Maybe if I get out of the glory business there'll be room for us to live and work together more effectively for peace and goodwill.
If you will join me in giving God glory and praise, a mystery will occur. The heavens will light up and we will be drawn closer together in communion. In this communion we will experience peace and goodwill. We will know for ourselves the meaning of salvation.
The Word did not become a philosophy, a theory, or a concept to be discussed, debated, or pondered. The Word became a person to be followed, enjoyed, and loved! So, let us dance with delight in the Word made flesh and let our hearts be filled with rejoicing, for eternal salvation has appeared on the earth. Glory to God in the highest and peace to God's people on earth. Alleluia!