by Bruce Epperly
Let me be the first person to wish you “A Very Process Christmas.” Process theology and Christmas just seem to fit together. That might surprise you, especially since process theology asserts that God acts naturally, through the regular processes of nature, and not supernaturally, showing up from the outside every so often to overturn the laws of nature to perform a miracle or defeat an enemy. Just the same, process theology joyfully proclaims the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s beloved child, and the boy who grew up to be healer, reconciler, prophet, and world-changer. God was in the stable and God is in our lives, too! Every day is an advent adventure in which can train eyes for signs of new birth in a world of threat and challenge.
Alfred North Whitehead asserts that the world lives by the incarnation of God. God moves everywhere and in all things, seeking beauty and love. Each moment emerges from God’s inner inspiration. God midwifes each person’s journey, seeking to bring forth the holiness within. God seeks abundant life for every creature, urging all things toward wholeness.
The world incarnates God! Emmanuel, “God with us,” is just as real today as it was in Bethlehem’s stable. A child is born in Bethlehem and a baby cries in a refugee camp, recalling the fact that shortly after Jesus’ birth, the holy family set out on a refugee journey to Egypt.
Walt Whitman once said, “All is miracle.” Meister Eckhart affirmed that “all things are words of God.” Julian of Norwich rejoiced that something as small as a hazelnut contained the fullness of God’s energy. If a hazelnut can emerge from the fullness of God, so can the baby growing in a mother’s womb.
Process theology proclaims that each moment is an epiphany and every encounter an incarnation. Christ is in us, and we can become Christ-bearers in our place and time.
Bethlehem’s stable is not an anomaly but the revelation of what God is doing everywhere. Our world is full of wonder, and the same love that grew day by day in Mary’s womb grows in every person’s life. God gives life to our souls, but also our cells, even at the moment of conception.
The birth of Jesus expresses the wonder-full world in which we live. The child in the manger is a miracle child, manifesting God’s holy light and giving light to all creation. But, my grandchildren and the children in your life are also “miracles,” energetic incarnations of divine love. They too take birth in an amazing, complicated, and often challenging world.
At Christmas, we listen for angelic voices, and for process theologians there are angels around every corner. Every moment brings a message from God and divine messengers abound. God’s angelic messengers speak in our hearts, inviting us to share in the birth of God in our world today.
God also comes to us as the magi from the East, revealing God’s many-faceted wisdom giving life to every authentic spiritual quest. The unique revelation of God in Jesus of Nazareth also shines in the holy words and people of other faith traditions.
Christmas celebrates God’s birth in a baby in an occupied land. Today, Christ’s brothers and sisters will take birth among Syrian refugees, inner city parents, Appalachian coal miners, grieving relatives in San Bernardino, Paris, and Beirut, and suburban households.
The word lives by the incarnation of God! Look under the Christmas tree and you’ll discover God with us. Have a very process Christmas!