A series of biblical reflections and prayers from David L. Miller, pastor of faith formation at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Naperville, IL. David is the former editor of The Lutheran magazine and Director of Spiritual Formation at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
December 16, 2012
Now it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the
whole inhabited world. This census--the
first- took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to be
registered, each to his own town. So Joseph set
out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judaea, to David's
town called Bethlehem, since he was of David's House and line, in order to be
registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Now it
happened that, while they were there, the time came
for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She
wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no
room for them in the living-space (Luke 2:1-7).
Old photos float across my
computer screen. Every few seconds a new one appears. Today, I see Rachel, my
daughter, riding on a merry-go-round.
She is not a child but a
mother. She stands beside a wooden horse looking down on a dark-haired little
boy whose face is electric with wonder. Ethan is two, and life is new. Each fresh
experience awakens his tender soul to the startling joy of being alive.
Older eyes grow jaundiced,
having seen it all, the exhilaration of living, sadly, worn off. But not these
eyes. These eyes are alive to the wonder of living, filled with joy that it can
be so good.
But he is not most the arresting
face in the photo. That accolade belongs to Rachel, who looks down at him, her gentle
eyes and smile filled with a love she probably didn’t know she could feel until
she first felt the stirring of new life in her womb.
She transports me to the
manger. Hers are the eyes of Mary, the eyes of a mother moved beyond words at
the miracle of bringing forth new life and cradling it in her arms.
Our eyes are hungry for
Christmas. We need to see it … to feel it. We need Christmas to fill us with the
miracle of the love that shines in Rachel’s face. We need it to come and transport
us beyond our world-weariness and re-awaken the joy of the little boy in this
So we come to the manager, open
the eyes of imagination and watch Mary pick up her child. She wraps him in
strips of cloth, not because she is poor but because she loves him more than
she has words to say.
We look again into her eyes
and see shining there a love beyond her own, the love who brings Christmas, the
love who hungers to fill our souls and make our hearts supple and new once
Mary wraps her child and
looks down into his sleeping face. We’ve seen such scenes before. So look again
with the eye of memory and imagination.
See the heart of God nestled
by a human heart. The sight will awaken you to the wonder of the Love who
humbly comes, resting in a donkey’s feed box, swaddled in human love, hungry to
be held … by you.
For prayer and reflection
What thoughts, memories and emotions did today’s
reflection awaken in you?
Where do you see and feel Christmas re-awakening
your heart this year?
Remember a Christmas when you wanted and needed
your heart to be made new. What happened?
Silent Night, holy night! All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy Infant so tender and mild, sleep in
heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.
(“Silent Night”, text: Joseph
Mohr, music: Franz Gruber, 1840)