The stories were written backwards.
By those who came later.
Written as statements of faith.
Not as a recitation of facts.
The only “fact” being their choice of Jesus instead of Caesar.
In a few days I will tell and retell the story in the same way.
Doing my best to pry open
Even the smallest of cracks
In my life
And maybe in yours, as well
To allow the witness of God with us and Peace on Earth
To turn our lives
Right side up
The Sufi Muslim poet, Rumi said:
You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.
Which makes me wonder…
When was the last time you felt you were only one person. Too small to make a difference? When was the last time you felt too insignificant to impact or to influence the change which, when you look around you and into your heart of hearts, you know needs to be made? When was the last time you felt too small to change the world? The last time you felt like a drop in the bucket to say nothing of a drop in the ocean?
Which brings us to today.
And, to Advent.
And, to its miraculous, jaw-dropping story of the birth of Jesus. Not miraculous because of Mary or angels or wondrous star or wisemen who find their way. Miraculous because everything one would normally expect in a story like this gets turned upside down.
The holy city Jerusalem is replaced by backwater Bethlehem.
Herod and his royal court are replaced by Joseph and Mary.
The Roman legions partroling the countryside and streets in an effort to maintain law and order is replaced by the heavenly hosts who sing Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace.
The Emperor Caesar Augustus is replaced by Jesus of Nazareth.
The drop in the bucket becomes the bucket.
The drop in the ocean becomes the ocean.
And, if this story is true, then this also is true.
The small things matter and can make a difference.
The kind word.
The caring touch.
The welcome extended.
And, this is true.
The forgotten shall be the ones who step forward and claim their place.
The disparaged shall be the ones whose presence helps to bend the long arc of history in the direction of the Kingdom of God.
The marginalized and the silenced shall be the ones who find their voice and sing and shout.
And, this also is true.
Too small is no longer an excuse to do nothing.
Too insignificant is no longer a reason to turn away.
For if God can use Bethlehem God can use you.
If God can use Mary and Joseph God can use you.
If God can speak to the shepherds huddled in the field God can speak to you.
If wisemen can see and follow a star so can you.
Because you are the ocean.
Working my way down my check list for Christmas
leaves me wondering about this.
Swords into plowshares.
Spears into pruning hooks.
Paying attention enough to see a star.
To say nothing of God with us.
Will I be ready?
And, in these days when we do our best to live in and to turn our lives in the direction of Christmas, we ask this, O God…
May whatever hope we hold onto in the midst of the darkness and the uncertainty which surrounds us, may that hope be our prayer.
May whatever ache we feel and whatever tears we shed for those we miss or those for whom we mourn, may our heart ache be our prayer.
May the anguish we feel for those broken places in our world and those whose lives have been disrupted or displaced by violence or hatred or abuse or indifference, may our anguish and anger also be our prayer.
May the dream we hold onto and the promise in which we place our trust be our prayer.
And, added to all of that, O God…
May our lives, ordinary as they are, be our prayer.
A Light to those who live in the darkness.
Compassion to those who have been forgotten.
Your presence walking around in our shoes.
Not just today as we look towards Christmas
But, each day and every day.
And, each moment and every moment.
May it be so, O God. May it be so.