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“Come and See”

December 25, 2009

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… and his name will be called, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“In the darkness of that Judean night, in the midst of nowhere, to parents who were nobody, the child was born… Then, as the Gospels picture it, all heaven broke loose.

“The darkness was shattered like glass, and the glory flooded through with the light of a thousand suns. A new star blazed forth… and the air was filled with the bright wings of angels, the night sky came alive with the glittering armies of God, and a great hymn of victory rose up from them – Glory to God in the highest – and strange kings arrived out of the East to lay kingly gifts at the feet of this even stranger and more kingly child…

“Whether there were ten million angels there or just the woman herself and her husband, when that child was born the whole course of history was changed. This is a fact as hard and blunt as any fact… the birth of the child into the darkness of the world made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living life.

“All the way down the twenty centuries since that child was born, there have been countless different kinds of people who in countless different kinds of ways have been filled with his spirit, who have been grasped by him, caught up into his life, who have found themselves in deep and private ways healed and transformed by their relationships with him, so much so that they simply have no choice but to go on proclaiming what the writers of the Gospels first proclaimed: that he was indeed the long expected one, the Christ, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – all these curious and forbidding terms that Christians keep on using in their attempt to express in language one thing and one thing only. That in this child, in the man he grew up to be, there is the power of God to bring light into our darkness, to make us whole, to give a new kind of life to anybody who turns toward him in faith, even to such as you and me.

“This is the only truth that matters, and the wise men, the shepherds, the star, are important only as ways of pointing to this truth. So what is left to us then is the greatest question of them all. How do we know whether or not this truth is true? How do we find out for ourselves whether in this child born so long ago there really is the power to give us a new kind of life in which both suffering and joy are immeasurably deepened…?

Adeste fidelis. That is the only answer that I know for people who want to find out whether or not this is true. Come all ye faithful, and all ye who would like to be faithful if only you could, all ye who walk in darkness and hunger for light…

Adeste fidelis. Come and behold him, born the king of angels… The great promise is that to come to him who was born at Bethlehem is to find coming to birth within ourselves something stronger and braver, gladder and kinder and holier, than ever we knew before or than ever we could have known without him.”

(taken from a chapter in The Hungering Dark by Frederick Buechner)

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