When reflecting on how the Christmas story is relevant in my ministry as a hospital chaplain, I am aware that I am surrounded daily by the sounds that began their generation at the birth of Christ. Walking through the halls of a hospital, being invited into the most intimate and vulnerable places of bodies, souls and minds, the air is thick with expressions of incarnation. What is the sound of that Word uttered on the day that God joined creation in time and space in another situation of vulnerability, a stable, all alone, in a dark night, among strangers in a distant land? I love you? I can’t wait! I’m here! Oh boy!
As Anglicans we especially value the via media while living in an overwhelming expanse of both the eternal and finite. Although we are taught that the Christmas story is the beginning of Jesus’ transcendent path through his own physical incarnation, somehow we are always slightly alarmed at the realization that we are on that same journey, and even more surprised that this is not a punishment, but in fact, the very way we live.
Living with passionate commitment to both body and spirit does not make us eager to pass from this life into the next. There is something about the all-encompassing experience that we are reluctant to leave behind even though it is at times not only painful and frightening but a complete mystery to us. In this way, the Christmas story is one that I surround myself with every day.
I am reminded of a loving gesture a friend made to me in a time of fearfulness. I found their words waiting for me unexpectedly on a small piece of yellow scribbler paper, which read simply, “You were born for this.” The shape and sound of those deep godly words soothed my soul. These are words I hope to sound in the painful and joyful places I am invited to enter into with those to whom I minister. I believe they could have easily been uttered by God, Mary, Joseph and the entire heavenly host on the most holy night when the Christ Child was born, trusting in his infinity so much that he relished the experience of his finite form. “You were born for this.”
Rev. Keirsten Wells
Co-ordinating Anglican health care chaplain
Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island