And All The Bells On Earth Shall Ring
“Then let us all rejoice and sing
On Christmas day, on Christmas day.
And all the bells on Earth shall ring
On Christmas day in the morning.”
—“I Saw Three Ships”
It’s Christmas, and despite everything painful, sorrowful, and even tragic that has happened to you and to me and to the world this year, the light has arrived.
Today we celebrate the arrival of Jesus—the Christ—even though in some mysterious way the Christ has always been present in the world. At the beginning of the Gospel of John, the fourth and final gospel in the Bible, we come across these mystifying words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it . . . And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
It’s kind of mind-blowing, isn’t it?
Jesus is the Christ, and the Christ is the Word that has always been God, has always been with God, and has always been “the light of all people.” This is a lot to think about—a lot to take in. But then it gets even more amazing: “the Word became flesh.”
I love that the Christ is described as the Word. A word, of course, is a sound or symbol used to communicate something. It’s beautiful to think that Christ has always been in the world, a wild, holy Word communicating to us and all creation that God is here.
On Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the presence of God becomes wonderfully more knowable: a person through which God can be understood through language (words) and deeds. The presence of Jesus, during his short time on Earth, pointed to a God “full of grace and truth.”
In John’s gospel and three other gospels, we have incredible accounts of this person who was—who is—both human and divine. All followers of Jesus are still wrestling with the implications of God taking human form and what God did and said as a human. Apparently, our God does choose sides, and God is on the side of the poor, the hurt, the lonely, the sick, and the afraid.
Two thoughts about all of this.
First, for anyone struggling with any part of life, celebrating the arrival of Jesus is a reminder that love always wins in the end. In fact, love has already won.
Second, we know that God can be found wherever there is light shining in the darkness. And if we want to heal ourselves, we need to work to heal others.
So today, as we contemplate the Christmas mystery, may we celebrate a new beginning for ourselves, each other, and the world. May we listen for the Word, and through the things we say and do, try to emulate its sound and shape for others. This way, our world will become a little more like the Kingdom of God, and all the bells on Earth shall ring.