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The Holy and Ordinary

by Susan Palo Cherwien

On Christmas Day across the centuries, Christians have sung and chanted these words to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ. From all corners of the world the song echoes: this day, this day Christ is born.

In these words at Christmas we do not give thanks for just a solitary event 2,000 years ago: we give thanks also for the hallowing of all days, for the holiness of this day in this year, for now. For Christ in entering time hallows all time, and Christ in entering space hallows all space. Christ fulfills what was begun in God’s creation, when God breathed God’s very breath into the soil (adamah) to bring forth human (adam).

This day (hodie in Latin). Today. God is always seeking to be born more fully into the world. God is always seeking out human hearts to provide God room. Not only in the first century, but now. Not only in the city of David, but also in Cleveland and in Harare.

Holy and earthly

This day Christ is born. Christ’s nativity is an ongoing coming to birth, coming into presence, coming to full- ness, not a single past event. This day, this day Christ is born. And this great day, with its coming together of holy and earthly, human and divine, infuses all days with holiness.

In the Orthodox liturgy for the Baptism of Christ, the following prayer is chanted: “Today the waters of the Jordan are changed into healing by the presence of the Christ.” All of creation is affected by the presence of the Divine.

Susan Palo Cherwien is a musician, poet, gardener and hymn writer who has written hymn texts for denominational hymnals across the United States and Canada.

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