Thursday, December 24, 2015
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
We live a time of fear. But these words are nonsense. Fear is our human condition, the inescapable result of being finite and mortal. We love our existence and know we will lose it, fearing the day will come too soon.
We always want more … more life, more love, more joy, dreading the loss of what we know and love.
It is not surpassing that the shepherds hide their faces and cling to the ground when strange sights interrupt the night. They know the fear they face in the darkness, the ravenous predators creeping on their sheep.
It is to them that the message comes, “Do not be afraid.”
The message comes … to you who know bad things can and will happen, to you who bear deep wounds and fear their next arrival, to you who feel the ache of separation from the Love that calms your heart, to you … a savior comes.
The savior unites heaven and earth. Separation from the Love who is Life is abolished. The Life of God is joined with our mortality and flows through our souls stilling every fear.
So ignore the fevered voices of fright that fan panic and alarm. Turn from those who tell you to be afraid. Rejoice and laugh. Lift your glass high and toast the heavens for the time of fear is done—to you is born a savior.
Pr. David L. Miller
Monday, December 21, 2015
He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Wrapped in mercy
I am not sure there is anything more beautiful to me than a mother cradling an infant. Maybe it is because part of me longs to be loved like that, and another part wants to be able to love … just like that.
Mary cradles Jesus and wraps him bands of cloth. Nothing unusual. I can sit in the mall and watch young mothers lift their babies from strollers, re-wrap blankets around them and hold a bottle to their lips.
Watching them, I know I am seeing much more than a mother doing the most natural thing in the world. I feel hopeful because I am seeing the world as it should be, but most often is not.
There may have been no place for Mary and her baby in the inn, but there is a place for them in my heart. I want the whole world to be a place where the each of our lives is held tenderly in arms that desire us to be at peace.
This is why Mary moves me. She brings forth the child who is God with us and then holds and loves him the way God loves and holds each of us.
The child in her arms is exactly that holding. Jesus is the God-man. In him, God receives our human nature, our joy and weakness and all we are, holding it all as a mother cradles her child. All we are is wrapped in mercy.
Jesus wraps our humanity in the warmth of God just as Mary wraps her child. It’s beautiful and tender, humanizing and hopeful. Is it any wonder that I love her more with each passing year?
Pr. David L. Miller