The country is in the throes of an economic recession but it is questionable whether in the light of this more people have turned to God. Secularism is as high as ever. Those who can party and shop to the hilt will and many who cannot will envy those who do. A few may accept their humble state, like the humble state of the infant babe of Bethlehem, and perceive for the first time the true meaning of Christmas.
One of those meanings is that in the incarnation, God was ‘othering’ i.e. He became other than Himself. He did not choose to be an angel nor merely assume the trappings of humanity. He became fully human. In Jesus, God desired and sought out human companionship. As a famous liturgist put it, Christmas implies “God’s hunger for human companions”. We see this in babies: they cry when left or wake up alone; they stop crying when they see the face of the other who is willing to pick them up and hold them close to their breast or cheek to cheek, not only family members, but any loving other.
As God became other for us in Jesus, we must become other for the sake of others. There is something about Christmas that brings out the best in most of us, if only for the season. It is as if the season makes us other for the sake of others: we prepare and deliver hampers for the needy; we help the elderly decorate their homes; we feel impelled to go to church; and try again at healing broken relationships.