What Bono gets right about Christmas

In an interview Bono, the lead singer of U2, was once asked about his religious beliefs.

He replied, “I think that there is a love and a logic that lies behind the universe. So I believe in God. I also see, as an artist, the poetic appropriateness of that unspeakable power manifesting itself as a baby born in straw poverty. And that’s why I’m a Christian.”

I think Bono gets to the heart of the Christmas story in that quote. Extraordinarily, the awesome majesty of the creator of the universe is expressed in the vulnerability of a baby.

I love the way it is expressed in the Christmas song ‘Joy Has Dawned Upon The World’:

“Hands that set each star in place, shaped the earth in darkness, Cling now to a mother’s breast, vulnerable and helpless.”

This is the paradox of the God we worship, not just at Christmas but all year round.

God could have simply overpowered us to believe in him through a magnificent display of power, but he chose instead to enter our world without fanfare and in poverty. He draws us to himself by quiet and humble means. He calls us to seek and find, to trust and follow him.

From its inception, Christianity has been a movement that has flourished when its follows the incarnational example set by God. When Christians come alongside the last, the least and the lost and serve them in sacrificial ways, it looks beautiful. But whenever Christianity has wedded itself to political and military power, it has ended up looking very ugly.

As we prepare for a Brexit-focussed General Election this Advent, the church (that’s you and me) need to act like the God who chose to be made known in the vulnerability and humility of Jesus.

Politics and power don’t ultimately bring transformation. Yes, we must steward those two forces responsibly and they can be tools for good as we play our part in the political process. But we’ve experienced time and again that politics can also be tools for personal ambition and division. Politics won’t fix our problems until the hearts of people are mended. 

I believe we as the church stand in a unique place with a holy calling. To bring healing and transformation to a society that is divided and broken. We can all do what we can from our ‘frontlines’ and together in prayer, love and the power of the Spirit we can be the hands and feet of the Jesus who came to meet us where we are.