So, we’ve gathered at the manger. We have left our gifts. We have seen what the angels sang about. It is time to return to the sheep. I hope they are okay. It is time to find our way home.
Should we go and tell King Herod what we found? He said he wanted to honor the child, but I’m not sure. Did he seem a bit creepy to you? He did to me.
What do we do now?
We can share some of the wonderings of the shepherds and the Magi after they found the child they searched for. We have spent days, weeks, even months preparing for the Christmas celebration. And a couple days after, we are left feeling somewhat empty.
We have to clean up the house and put away all the decorations. If we visited in another place we have to pack up and go home.
It is time to get back to normal life, right?
If that is all we seek, our old normal life, then we have missed the point of the journey and the visit.
If Christmas means anything, it means we are to be transformed.
In Luke 2:20, the shepherds went away rejoicing. In Matthew 2:10, the Magi rejoiced when they found the child under the star. They were so affected by their visit that they defied the King and found another way home.
So how are we to be transformed by our honoring the birth of Christ?
We need to first of all share in the joy of those first visitors.
Sadly, one of the perceptions we have about our normal lives is that they are humdrum and without a whole lot of interest and excitement. That is why we put so much energy into these festivals: life is boring and we crave excitement, so let’s find a reason to party. Then we can forget how drab our existence is.
The coming of Light in the manger is to show us that the normal life God intends for us is full of joy and celebration.
Our normal life needs to filled with the fullness and depth of joy that comes from experiencing the living presence of the light of the universe.
Another lesson from our visit to the manger scene is shown by Mary. Throughout the various Nativity stories, Mary is said to contemplate in her heart the events and words of others. She remembered. She kept remembering and in that memory lies her new life.
We need to be people who remember the wisdom of events and caring people in our lives. It is easy for me to forget what happened yesterday. Yet, the life that comes to my from the source of history provides me reason to try to remember and when I remember I find myself changed by the events of not only the past but the present.
As we nurture a remembering life, we look to each present moment as a wonderful opportunity to experience the living presence of hope.
The third lesson from the child in the manger is the centrality of embodying our life.
It is easy for us to want to split ourselves into pieces and compartments. We think it is easier to control and manage. And it is, up to a point.
Yet, as we continue to divide and conquer our lives we fracture and fragment. We become less and less the whole people that God creates us to be. We split body from spirit. We divorce head and heart. We separate work and faith.
That is not living in light of the Incarnation.
At Christmas, God chose to integrate all the pieces that we try to scatter in our lives. Divinity unites with flesh and heaven and earth are brought together in that cave.
As we come to and leave the presence of the child we are to be reunited with our selves. We are meant to embody and integrate all that God has given us.
This body is no longer the enemy, it again the gift of the creator. It is the image of God that is now transformed by the promise of resurrection.
In leaving the manger we complete the circle. The Magi looked up and found a star to follow, they looked inside to find a heart of great meaning, and as they leave they stand on the solid ground of earth and again look to heaven with new hope and great joy.
Complete the circle.