Cycling the country roads near our home leads through the farms and fields. Most lie fallow now, holding still with memories of late summer sweet corn and the tobacco harvest, or with moldering remains of a massive pumpkin patch.
Even though it’s December and the wind whistles chill, there’s still color in the fields.
Some have been tilled and lie dark with brown loam, waiting spring seeds. Others wave with sallow grasses that sprout untended in the aftermath of harvest.
But an occasional field stretches wide and… green.
December green is different than the newborn green of April, or midsummer’s bright green growing under steady sun, or even the gracious greens of fall that slowly step aside for yellows and browns.
December green is soft and receptive, gladly reflecting whatever light the paling rays of winter sun will give. It is deep with a certain steadiness, as if full knowing it will need a stubborn, tenacious heart to remain underneath the snow and ice that are sure to come. But mostly, it is simply alive, with both a memory of what was and a promise of what will be in that place.
The Christ-child comes to our place, to our world– fading and spinning harsh, often angry and violent, soul-less and inhumane, cynical and caustic—fields left often barren by the pursuit of other harvests. And yet…there remain hints of beauty beyond imagining, of stunning courage or sacrificial love that show humanity rare, of mercy-moments that flicker memories of another life, from another place.
He comes to our place; the all-creating Word become flesh. The prophet says “He grew up before God as a tender shoot, like a young plant” (Is. 53:3) But it was a young plant with ancient roots, sunk deep in eternity. He was first embraced in his mother’s arms, and then across years, he engaged the messy fullness of life on our broken planet, without ever giving into soul-killing winter.
He came to our place, to die in our place. He came to live again so we could finally and forever, know the longings of our hearts satisfied and the shadows of our hearts lightened.
The Christ-child came to our place, alive with a memory of what once was for we poor humans. He was there in Eden’s Garden, saw people like us alive with God’s life: free, joyful, contented, intimate with God and transparently real with one another. He remembers what was in the heart of our Creator for our life in the beginning.
The Christ-child came to our place, holding fast a certain promise of what can be. He came to absorb hell’s deep cold and burning fury for us, so sin’s winter might not kill us. He then gave us His undying life, so that we could live beyond our soul’s winter into the beauty of spring forever with our Creator and King.
The Christ-child came, simply alive with memory and promise.
In other words, Jesus, the Christ-child in the manger, is our December green.