Greetings in the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ,
In Jane Austen’s Emma
, Mr. John Knightley quips about an upcoming Christmas party: we are going to another’s house “with nothing to say or to hear that was not said or heard yesterday and may not be said and heard again to-morrow”.
In many ways, this is such a true statement. What can we say/hear this Christmas that we have not already said/heard? After all, we have been telling this story for over two thousand years; nothing has changed! Or has it?
The events that we remember each Christmas have not changed. Yet, have we
not changed? Just think back to last Christmas and all the “changes and chances of this life” that you have experienced since then. While the truth of the events of that first Christmas have not changed our condition has certainly changed, and we desperately need to hear the message of Christmas a-new this year.
Consider this. One of my favorite moments in the Christmas Story is not a moment that is clearly noted in scripture but a moment that happened none the less. The shepherds have left the stable. The song of the angel choir has faded from Shepherds’ Field. The animals sleep. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus now have their first quiet moment together. After the chaos of birth and the frenzied visits, there is a quiet moment – a moment of peace. The holy family lies on a bed of hay – Still. Quiet. Peace.
This is a powerful image to cherish this year. After the year that we have had and the promise of a few more months of unsettledness, take a few precious moments to just sit at the Manger -- nothing to be said, the baby sleeps; nothing to be heard -- except the rhythmic breathing of the Son of God. All that is to be done is to look into the face of the child Jesus, the face of God – the face or our redemption.
While you sit at the Manger, spending some much needed quiet time with God, remember that while you rest, God is always at work. Karl Barth, noted theologian of the 20th
Century, wrote: “For God does not stand still when we come to a standstill, but precedes us with his deeds and only waits so that we can follow.” God knows that we need moments of rest and reflection. God knows that we need guidance for the future, and God is willing to wait for us to follow.
Since we may not fully know what awaits when we leave the Manger this year, we may know for certain that God is already going before us. God is waiting to carry us through the challenging times, rejoice with us in the joyous times, and guide us during the uncertain times. For now, though, we spend some quiet time at the Manger.
Find time this Christmas Season just “to be” – to be present with loved ones in whatever way you are able; to be gentle with yourself; above all, to be mindful of God’s presence in your life and sit with that presence.
I wish you a joyously-quiet, regenerative Christmas Season. I look forward to following God’s lead in the New Year with you.
In the Peace of Christ,
The Reverend T. Grant Ambrose, Rector