As with gladness men of old,
Did the guiding star behold,
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onwards, beaming bright,
So, most gracious God, may we
Evermore be led to thee.
~ from the Evening Prayer II hymn on the Feast of the Epiphany, Liturgy of the Hours
I wanted to take a moment and thank those of you who have joined me on the journey I began in November on the first Sunday of Advent. Whether you were there at the start or joined us somewhere along the way, I thank you. Each day I posted something for your edification, but mostly it was for my own. My goal was to avoid the crass commercialism and busyness that is the holiday season while keeping my focus on the Light that entered into the world in that stable two millenia ago. And it worked, for while the past month has brought some difficult and challenging times as a parent and father, there was a lot of peace internally that enabled me to handle the situation. And it’s ok that there was no earth-shattering alteration for me this season. Instead what I found was a gentle nudge to maintain the course I’ve set upon and keep walking this road. Reaffirmation, and the knowledge that while the time of preparation ended with the Incarnation, the miracle remains. And we’ve got work to do, you and I.
For long after the angels disappear into the heavens, the shepherds return to their flocks, the magi journey home and the great star sets, Jesus remains.
The Child in whom we rediscover God’s great love for humanity becomes the adult Redeemer who challenges us to imitate his selflessness and compassion in order that we might transform our world in love. For today that little baby, born into such pitiful humility and then cut down as a young man in his prime, commands the allegiance of millions of people all over the world. Although they have never seen him, he has become friend and companion to innumerable people. This undeniable fact is, by any measurement, the most astonishing phenomenon in human history. It is a solid rock of evidence that no agnostic can ever explain away.
This is why, behind all of the fun and games we had during Christmastime, we should not have tried to escape a sense of awe at what God has done. We must take care to never allow anything to blind us to the true significance of what happened at Bethlehem so long ago.
What we just celebrated was no beautiful myth, no lovely piece of traditional folklore, but a solemn fact. God has been here once historically, but, as millions will testify, he will come again with the same silence and the same devastating humility into any human heart ready to receive him.
May we allow the miracle of Christmas to continue long after the holiday trappings have been packed away.
May we welcome the adult Messiah and his challenging Gospel to recreate our lives, making the peace, justice and hope of this holy season a reality in every season of the new year.
Strengthened, and with renewed vigor, may we evermore walk this path in full knowledge of the fact that the Miracle remains.