“In the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, and be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary, yet is wondrously present.’
It seems that secular expectations of decorating, gift-giving, entertaining, and attendance has attempted to rob this 2009 season of Christmas of the sense of Peace and Shalom it intends. Shifting cultural expectations have no sense of intention or conscience… they are reactive and responsive, not strategic.
The neighbors put up more lights and decorations than last year, filling a need to lift our depressed spirits… we raised the bar for colored lights, “icicles” from the eves, and lighted wire animals with animated heads panning back and forth in the yard.
Retailers were in soft-spoken panic, feeling the need to prop up past year’s weak sales and the promised lean months ahead, so they started us all shopping earlier and pressed us harder.
Concerts, stage shows, new movie releases abound trying to accommodate for lighter audiences and leaner income than before. We were pulled in more directions this Christmas because people, groups, and business are hurting in a saddened culture of economic hardship… surely we enjoyed a delightful richness in all these new or expanded opportunities to find something joyous this Christmas…
But still, there was something even more than that this season; perhaps you experienced it too, in the quiet moments of silence. There was that familiar still small voice, a baby’s cry echoing faintly from the wilderness… in the short walk from car to shop, in the lonely ride in an elevator, in the quiet untangling last year’s light string… Yes, it was in the brief yet powerful moments of sweet silence when the magic of Christmas broke through and whispered in oh, such a powerful voice.
God does not change. Nor can God’s voice be muted by the things of man. The whisper from the heavens this year is just as loud as in years past. The angels are still singing; the shepherds are still quaking; the wise men are still seeking. The loudness of the world cannot drown out the joy of this season.
God’s voice, even from the mouth of a babe in swaddling clothes, sings out… and we all sing loudly: “Joy to the World, the Lord is come!” Jesus will not be slighted. Jesus will not be sleeping when we approach the manger for the first or the next time.
It is so true. The scene of the nativity is more prominent and plentiful in our hearts than ever before. The hope of Christmas is upon us. The peace of the season warms our hearts as the fireplace warms our feet. The joy of the promise gives us confidence to move ahead…whatever adversity may arise.
The Love of God will always win the day. The Christ has arrived. The world stands ready for transformation. God’s people are ready to receive treasures beyond explanation. Go in haste and find them anew in you… We are brothers and sisters in Christ, because Christ is born anew today, in us and in the world to stay.
Praise be to God in heaven and may his peace forever rule in this Earth and in all of our hearts.
May the Peace and Shalom of Christmas be known to you, in you, and through you.
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