(Luke 2: 41-52)
The tsunami that crushed so many in Indonesia this week
missed my borders by thousands of miles.
The wildfires that destroyed so many homes this year
burned far beyond my horizon.
Guns spilled blood in nearby cities, but no bullets
flew on my street.
Hunger tore bellies in large swaths of the world
while the barbecues cooked in my neighbourhood.
Oh yes, there were struggles, there were
grievings, losses, hardships;
the failures and stumblings
that caused myself or others pain;
yet for me — as for many of us —
life has been the calm of a sun-washed island
around which earth’s storms
have swirled without touch.
And I wonder if life was like that for
Mary and Joseph as they travelled
to the Passover in Jerusalem.
Long past was the drama of the dream
that spoke to Joseph, warning the young parents
of the danger to their son. Long past
was the journey that took them as refugees
to Egypt to escape the hate of Herod
that would destroy others’ lives.
Now in Nazareth they lived
on an island of relative calm,
where the wars fought by Rome or
violence suffered by others
had little or no effect day to day.
Life was now routine,
though perhaps not entirely easy,
troubled only by the challenges
faced by many
to make sure there would be food
for the day.
But if long past was the danger
and the difficulty of fleeing,
if long past was the hardship of being homeless,
long past, as well, were the angels and the shepherds,
the singing and the shining and the smell of manger hay.
And long past, as well, was the visit of the Magi, those
strange travellers from the east with
their amazing, wondrous gifts.
Had Mary and Joseph forgotten so much
with the passing of the years?
Was life now so dulled by regular routine,
by daily business, daily pressures,
that Jesus’ own significance was all but lost?
For us, too, perhaps, the time that follows Christmas
— where once again the very blessedness
of our little islands of safety,
or where once again the daily pressures of ordinary life
dim the joyful memories of the singing and celebration —
is a time where the birth’s significance
is all but lost.
How easy it becomes to lose sight of Emmanuel
— God with us — when our lives
are relatively calm.
How easy it becomes to lose sight of Jesus
in the crowds, in the comings and the goings,
in the swish and the swirl of daily needs.
Where shall we look for him
if we’ve lost sight of what he means?
Where shall we seek the One
born gift of God?
Perhaps we have a temple, a sacred, holy place,
a place where we are opened to glory and to mystery.
A place where we sense the presence of the Divine
touching us and speaking to our hearts.
Perhaps we find Jesus there.
We may find him offering wisdom.
We may hear him asking questions.
We may find him nudging minds
to seek the purposes of God.
And outside in the world’s suffering
we will find him busy, too.
We will find him about God’s business,
pursuing God’s loving intentions,
embracing the wounded and weary
with God’s healing and peace.
I know we are appropriately thankful
for the blessedness of our lives.
I know we give God thanks
for all islands of calm.
But may we not forget, in the time that
that we are servants with Jesus
of purposes higher than ourselves.
May we not lose sight in our busyness of the Christ
who is about God’s business,
who goes before us into the neediness of the world.
Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King