I am the door; those who enter through me will be kept safe, and will go in and out and find sustenance … I came that they may have infinitely more than the necessities of life. John 10:9–10
What do Ebenezer Scrooge, George Bailey, Jack Campbell and Sidney Milburn have in common? They are all characters in “Christmas” stories, who, in the midst of misery, each experience a vision of an alternate reality, a glimpse of how life could be or could have been. Then they each respond positively, though reluctantly, to the possibility of a better life: a life in which relationships with other people are more valuable than social or financial success. Rather than using others as means to their ends, they choose to live as joyful givers. Jack’s final words are, “I choose us!” Appealing, as far as it goes. In the real Christmas story, Jesus presents an even better alternate reality, one not affected by human fear or finitude. Jesus makes available eternal life: life in which we experience the immeasurable riches of the grace of God in useful kindnesses … forever … in the context of other people who also delight in God. Free from fear of want, we will participate in God’s extravagance with both gratitude and generosity. When we respond with joyful willingness to Jesus’ alternate vision of life, we receive the Holy Spirit as the down payment of all the goodness to come. When we choose Jesus, we choose everyone, forever.
Gracious God, as we celebrate this Christmas, open our hearts to embrace the abundant life available in Jesus.