Sometimes, there are things in life that are missing. Sometimes, we are aware that something is missing, but we cannot quite put our finger on it. Other times, we rush around and don’t even know that something is missing. For weeks, we have been running around “making Christmas, making Christmas, fa la la”—putting up evergreen trees, wrapping gifts with ribbons and bows, hanging all of those stockings with care, unpacking and setting up the plastic yard art, loudly singing Christmas carols, and warming the house with smells of cookies and hot cider.
Yet in the busyness something… something else… slips in. And everything, EVERYTHING, changes.
What is it?
Do you sense it?
Our disquieted world needs it.
Hush. Listen. For the gift is about to arrive…
Pastor Kris moved to the communion table, on which sat an empty stable. As each person of the Christmas story was named, they were added to the scene.
The gift arrives here even if we are like Mary…
Young, excited by life, afraid of life, yet initially not so sure, then accepting, pondering.
Or like Joseph…
Confused, dismissive, well-meaning… but not getting things quite right, at once resolved and wavering, protective.
The gift is ours even if we are like the shepherds…
Hard-working, scared, outcast, traumatized, overwhelmed… curious, urgently responsive.
This gift is delivered today even as we live in a very, very, weary world…
The gift is here… whether or not we are ready.
Whether or not we have prepared.
Done our homework.
Whether we have opened the door.
Whether or not we are organized.
Whether or not we have cleaned up our messiness—
God slips in.
‘Tis the season that our lives shift from anxious, to exhausted,
to excited, and back…
In all of our joys, songs, sugar rushes, and boxes to wrap…
Shhhh… do you hear it?
The noise of God slipping in?
Shhh… Look around. Do you see it? The world around us is in disarray. We muddle from crisis to crisis. All too often (and understandably so) our resolve, our determination, wavers in the confusion. Despair and anxiety cloud God’s intent for Holy Hope. The gloom and deep freeze make it hard to hear God’s grace in the heavenly words, “Do not be afraid.”
Do not be afraid.
It is here. And it is now. It is precisely because our lives are still messy…
Because the world is still messy…
That God slips in.
GOD is born today.
Will we let God slip in?
In his poem, Will Light Candles this Christmas, Howard Thurman highlights our tenacity as people who follow Jesus. He focuses on the absurdity of our faith as we light:
Candles of joy, despite all sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch.
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all the yearlong. (Howard Thurman, from the Mood of Christmas)
Candles that will burn all the year-long.
God is born.
Let God slip in.
Do not be afraid.
For the birth of a child has transformed our lives.
Heavenly hosts still sing “Alleluia!”
Tonight, our encounter with God changes everything!
Tonight, we let God slip in.
Reflection on Luke 1:1-3; 26b-32; 38 offered on December 24, 2019