Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Neb., says Christmas shows that God is truly with mankind despite the evils of the world, which means Christians must “find the miraculous amid the ordinary.”
“Christmas declares that our world is not insignificant. Christmas declares that we are worth being loved. Christmas affirms that God walked among us in the person of Jesus Christ; that he loves us enough to become like us, to suffer, and to die,” Bishop Conley said in his Dec. 21 column in the Southern Nebraska Register.
“Through the Incarnation, Christ shows us the true value and dignity of everyday life. Christ shows the possibility of overcoming the sin that leads to tragedies like the murders in Connecticut last week.”
The bishop said that the murder of 20 children and six adults in a Newtown, Conn. elementary school Dec. 14 makes some people “doubt that a God of total love could tolerate the existence of such evil.”
However, Bishop Conley countered that God's love is “beyond measure” and in his eyes “small things, simple things, are beautiful.”
“That is why the maker of the farthest galaxies reaches out to us with the hand of a newborn child,” he said.
“We are small, but greatly loved by God. Our world is flawed, but not beyond redemption. And Christ has lowered himself to our level in order to raise us up to his, for all eternity.”
Bishop Conley wrote that Christmas challenges those who believe that God is “far from us,” but it also challenges believers who do not live as if God is near.
“We must learn to see things as God does. To him, nothing is insignificant and no one is forgotten,” he said.
“Like the shepherds on Christmas night, we are called to find the miraculous amid the ordinary. The greatest mystery, God’s love for us, always lies hidden in plain sight. Nothing is ordinary when seen in light of the Incarnation.”
He encouraged Christians to find Jesus in “ordinary” places like daily work and in their neighbors and in the poor.
“Grace is there – and everywhere else,” Bishop Conley said.
“God’s transcendent goodness and beauty are not far-off abstractions. The one who has faith, and an open heart, can find them everywhere.”