Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Today’s text

Luke 2:9-15

An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, 'Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.' And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God with the words Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favors. Now it happened that when the angles had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us.'


“Don’t be afraid,” the angel commands.

She (or is it he?) should have saved her breath. The light of God warms the winter night for shepherds on a hillside, and it is fear we most expect.

No command can still their fears … or ours. Go ahead, try. Command yourself not to be afraid. Command the fear of one who is dear to your heart. Tell their fears to go and not return. It does no good. We cannot be talked out of fears.

We can only be loved out of them.

Clueless about what they were doing, the shepherds do exactly this. “Let’s go and see,” they say. They run across frozen fields under the starlight to the old barn to see what is happening.

Join them.

Gather your hopes and fears. Take the ache at the pit of your stomach for something you don’t know how to name. Take the fragmented pieces of your life you can’t put together in way that satisfies your desire for a life that is truly human and happy.

Take your feeling of being lost and needy. Take your restless desire to know a great love that is always sufficient. Take your fears of life and death. Take that sinking feeling that your life will never be what you want and need it to be

Take it all, and go see the child.

The shepherds, confused and shy, slowly draw near, not knowing how close they may come or whether they are welcome.

Stand among them on hesitant feet. Come to the manger. See the child who stirs the hope that the ache in your heart can find healing.

Come and see: In this child, God comes to you. God pours the love of the divine heart into human form, seeking to awaken in you the love that is in the child … for you.

When you know this love you know the One who saves you from all that is not love.

This Love will save you from yourself and all your fears, pouring love on each of your dyings until there is nothing left but life and the angel’s song.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Today’s text

Luke 2:6-7

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.


I see them there, in the back corner of the red barn. A half dozen cattle stamping their feet, impatient to be milked, their necks through the old wooden stanchions, heads reaching and pulling at the hay as they feed.

Their breath hangs in the air, warm and sweet as summer clover. They glance over their thick shoulders as we pass and prepare for the milking.

I am too young to work, so I watch my uncle in the old barn that once was ours before my father got sick and had to surrender this place.

I steal away to the back corner where bales of hay and straw are stacked like a wall and cats climb and sniff, listening for the slightest rustle signaling a mouse burrowing among the bales.

I see them there. The man and the woman, startled at my approach, thinking they were alone in this place. Their eyes wide with apprehension, wondering what has happening to them and whether I will expose their presence.

There is no need for fear, for all I want is to watch, and I am a child, so what threat can I be to their already vulnerable lives? Their eyes return to the worn wooden box where the child lies amid straw pulled from the bales.

The woman takes the child and fusses with the cloths, wrapping the child securely from the cold that filters between the cracks where the barn boards warp and cup.

She swaddles the child, covering every bit of tender flesh but his face, and it is just then that I see.

I see that the approach of God to human flesh evokes no fear or trembling. The Holy One comes, vulnerable and in need of the love only human hearts can provide.

I see the desire of God has nothing to do with parading power or making me feel small or sinful and ugly. The Holy Mystery comes to awaken the love with which we are loved by Him.

God awakens the beauty of heart and care that I may tenderly pick up the child and swaddle this life, feeling the stir of a love that is the same love which moves the Holy One to seek me through the flesh of this child.

This I see, and seeing, I know: none of us know God until we know Him as the child in the manger, seeking to be swaddled and tenderly held in our hearts.

I see this, and outside the old barn, ancient stars shine on Pea Ridge, half-a-mile across sloping, frozen fields. And the wind through the trees that stand up there sounds like singing.

Pr. David L. Miller