As I often do around Christmas time, I recently returned to Karl Barth's Deliverance to the Captives.
<waits for long sigh about another Barth post>
As a collection of sermons delivered by Barth, the book acts as a great introduction to the man's theology and its practical application. Individuals who couldn't be brought to care about his theology in a systematic or creedal sense can appreciate his sermons. The setting for many of the sermons is Basel Prison. The tenor of Barth's message and gospel preaching is undeniable.
One of my favorite sermons is entitled "Unto You Is Born This Day A Saviour." It was delivered on Christmas day in 1954. Two years ago, I blogged on a selection of the sermon for Christmas Eve. I was a little more self-focused and introspective as I wrote:
"I confess that I am in need of hearing God's message. Christmas is not sentimental feelings. It is not even my theological postulations on the Incarnation (of which there will be some shortly). The Christmas story is spoken to us about our savior. It is a time to stop and listen."
In re-reading the sermon, I was struck this time by the stirring community of faith Barth finds in the declaration "Unto you." He highlights this by quoting portions of the Lord's Prayer—something I'm not unfamiliar with—but he follows it up with a compact position on communion with one another:
"Therefore the Christian life is one great communion, a fellowship with the Saviour and hence a fellowship among brothers. Where there is no communion with the Saviour, there is no communion among brothers, and where there is no communion among brothers, there is no communion with the Saviour. The one is not possible without the other." (24)
The deconstruction of Christmas into an individualistic event is not something I am familiar with. However, I am familiar with an evangelical culture that hinges pietism on individualism. Scripture, in contrast, hinges communion with Christ jointly to communion with the church. One can not love Christ or the Father without loving the bride and calling the church mother. As Barth stated in his lectures on Luke, "Where Christ is, there is his Church" (The Great Promise).
So on this Christmas Eve and Christmas (for those with Mass on Monday), let us eat at the Lord's Table acknowledging that Christ brings us communion—sometimes whether we like it or not. Unity and communion with Christ unites and communes us to one another—sometimes even when we openly deny it with our theology. But He is the Christ. And His light has shown upon us this Christmas day. All we can do is bask in it.