Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;
A bruised reed he will not break and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
I have just finished reading The Lemon Tree, a story of possible reconciliation in Israel-Palestine between Jews and Palestinians. It’s a powerful story but the phrase that leaps out of the book to me is one quoted from a Bulgarian-French philosopher, Tzvetan Todorow, who talks about “the fragility of goodness” which he defines as the “intricate, delicate, unforeseeable weave of human action and historical events” that can lead to something good.
The phrase “fragile goodness” describes so much of what I want in life: goodness that seems to evaporate in a moment or at the breath of any cruel wind of chance, delight that dies at the petty meanness of others.
Babies always appear fragile to me, especially babies born in distress or troubled circumstances.
So Jesus—God in flesh—was born to assure us that God’s intention for us is not just a fragile goodness but a fragile and CERTAIN goodness. Jesus is God’s sign that every hope of redemption and every tentative move to wholeness and peace will be brought to full promise by the power of God. That grace is the sure hope we celebrate at Christmas. Moved by its tenderness and fragility, I pray that all of us also trust in Christmas’ transcendent power: that God does call us to trust in a New Life that will have no end, to redeem our broken today and lift us up to a new hope when we think our desire for the Kingdom is too fragile to stand.
What a marvelous God to become subject to human frailty; what a marvelous Redeemer to point to God’s power that makes fragile goodness stand forever.
I pray that you and I can live in that hope and share that peace to a world that knows fragility all too well. And that we can share it as those who share it with gentleness and joy.
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