Driving by the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Des Moines, the sign* read,
Any night a child is born
Is a holy night.
I smiled inwardly, a clever poke from our U-U friends. Perhaps a playful potshot intended to bring our Christian fixation with Jesus down a notch or two. More often I hear similar sentiments, not so much from Unitarians, but from secular-skeptics about the end rather than the beginning of Jesus’ life—statements like, “Innocent people are executed all the time. There are so many noble martyrs, what’s so unique about Jesus’ death?”
Maybe I’m being too hard on the U-U’s sign. There is a way to read it not as a downgrading of Jesus’ birth, but instead as an example of what theologians might call a “high Christology.” It isn’t an especially Reformed way of thinking, although I believe it was while reading Karl Barth that I first encountered it.
All human births are indeed now holy because God-in-Christ was born of a human. All mothers are holy because Jesus our Lord had a mother. Grilled fish is holy because Jesus ate such. The dust of earth is holy because it clung to Jesus’ feet. We might call it “sacralizing” all mundane things because of their contact with Jesus Christ. All creation is elevated and hallowed because Jesus lived in and among it. We Reformed folk have usually been a little too rational and unsentimental to adopt such a perspective wholly. If everything is holy, is anything finally holy?