A Christmas message by
James M. Kushiner on behalf of your friends at The Fellowship of St. James
Home for Christmas
On the snow-dusted front lawn sits a Nativity créche. Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus are there. Mary and Joseph serenely gaze at the Child in the Manger, who fills the stable with a peace and joy immeasurably greater than the peace and joy that experienced by any young mother and father when they receive their first-born child, the fruit of their love. For we see a new Family in this stable—a new Adam in the Manger.
What can Mary be thinking as Mother of Immanuel? And what must Joseph be pondering, instructed by an angel about the true identity of this Child? What thoughts and words pass between this Mother and Father, who know such mysteries? Even if we can peer inside the créche, the inner life of this Family is beyond normal human experience. We come to it as outsiders.
On Christmas Day, in each home where Christmas is celebrated there is likewise a familial fellowship that is not entirely accessible to anyone outside it. Behind the door of every home is a communion, a fellowship of persons, that has a unique inner dynamic all its own, that can only be experienced by the celebratory participants.
Someone stranded on a Christmas Eve might even end up sharing Christmas with another family, in another home which offers hospitality, but it is still not their own home or family. Each family gathering has its own inner life—sometimes healthy, sometimes not entirely—but it belongs to that family. The guest is very welcome, and may share the food and the laughter, but he remains a guest. His heart has not been woven into the fabric of love and affection of this family over the years through both their joys and struggles.
But there are some, not related by blood or marriage, about whom we can say, "Well, he is family." They have by experience become woven into the fabric of the family. Such an "adoption," so to speak, grows out of shared experiences, sacrifices, love, and solicitude. An outsider has become a part of the family by sharing its inner life over time.
The inner, personal life of the family in a sense is a dim reflection of what is called in Greek the perichoresis of the Holy Trinity. Difficult to translate, it reflects the inner life and relations of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is God-in-Fellowship—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the heart of the Trinity is divine mutual Love. Jesus speaks of his own unity with the Father, not just a unity of purpose or identification, but a living communion in which Christians are invited to share:
"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." (John 17:21)
Through Christ, we are invited into the very household of God—forever, where we become members and not simply guests. Christians become members of a family into which we were not born according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. All are invited into the Life of the Holy Trinity through Christ as newly adopted members of the family of God. All, whether rich or poor, homeless, rejected, or forgotten in this life—all are offered a permanent place at the Table of God.
Thus we can be more than appreciative spectators when we see a Nativity Créche. At the Créche, the front door of the Heavenly Home is opened to us. As two lines from the Christmas carol, "Good Christian Men Rejoice!" has it:
He has opened the heavenly door, and man is blest forevermore…
…[He] calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.
Inside the Hall, the Holy Family welcomes us. The Holy Child says, "Come, beloved of my Father." That Manger holds the Bread of Life!
But the front door to the Father's house is also a two-way door. To accept the invitation, we must open the doors of our own hearts in response to the Savior's who stands at the door and knocks, and invite him into our hearts—and our homes.
Thus, the Apostle John presents what we might call a "perichoretic" invitation near the end of the Apocalypse: "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let him who hears say, 'Come.'" The invitee also becomes an inviter!
Christmas invites us to come Home. Come, let us invite Him into ours!