“What God has to say to us is this: First, we are forgiven. Astonishingly, with no ground other than the miracle of mercy, the past of sin is over, and we are set free for holiness. Second, we live in the light of God’s glorious presence. God isn’t simply on the other side of the horizon. He is God with us, in Jesus Christ. Third, we live under his rule and therefore within his protection and care. He has taken away from us the evil responsibility we think we have for ourselves, and has set us under his might.” -John Webster, Confronted by Grace: Meditations of a Theologian
The Heidelberg Catechism begins with the question “What is thy only comfort in life and death?” How often do we ask this question of ourselves? Daily? Weekly? However much, it most likely isn’t often enough. Since we are creatures that run full speed into idolatrous thinking, unfortunately this means we are unable to come to a conclusion of ontological significance. We would likely have a different answer depending on the day, mood we are in and circumstances that we find ourselves in. We struggle to find meaning for our existence, we stumble our way through our lives being held captive by our desires towards the created things and pulled away from the One who is the true end of our desires. There seems to be an endless grind, in which the mundane tasks of life seek to suck the life right out of our core. We hopelessly seek an answer, only to find the answers we have found are a mere reflection of ourselves, and this gives us right back to the despair we attempted to get away from.
Is God silent in the face of all this despair? Taking a Que. from Karl Barth, “Nein!” God has spoken a decisive Yes towards His creation. That Word was a saving word. The Word that was in the beginning. That same Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). How wonderful the Christmas season is! It is a global reminder that God has not left us alone in our despair, and has given us the comfort that we seek. Not because of what we did, but out of His love for us.
Karl Barth speaks of the doctrine of election is the sum of the Gospel:
“…All words that can be said or hear it is the best: that God elects man; that God is for man too the One who loves in freedom. It is grounded in the knowledge of Jesus Christ because He is both the electing God and elected man in One.” CD II.2.32, pg. 3
When we look to the Incarnation, we can find that our despair is located within our flesh, which will not overcome us:
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4,5)
Christmas season is the witness to this. The darkness has not overcome the light, and the light was the life of men. Before creation He pledged to be our God. In His loving freedom He acted towards us, he did not leave us alone in our despair and anxieties. He truly is Immanuel (Matthew 1:23), God is indeed with us.