December 23, 2021
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 25, Malachi, and pieces of the treasured Lucan infancy narratives.
If we listen to the silence, we can hear the whole world – whether they recognize it or not – straining toward the wonders of Christmas. All the earth’s people yearn for the hope, the peace, and the love which we, as Christians, celebrate in the Birth of Jesus Christ.
And suddenly there will come to the templeMalachi 3: 1
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, the Holy One is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
Our psalm response encourages us to look up – so that we might see the approach of this blessing.
Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.Luke 21:28
So many things occupy our attention, certainly every day, but especially around the holidays. These pressures and responsibilities can pull our focus away from the deeper realities of our spirit. They can cause us to miss the true meaning and blessing of Christmas. We might need, as Zechariah did, a serious nudge to begin attending to and trusting our spiritual insights – our “angels”.
Thinking about that kind of trust, I am reminded of a Christmas Eve seventy or more years ago. I was a very little girl but old enough to worry that, if I weren’t asleep when Santa came, I would get no presents! But I just couldn’t fall asleep no matter how tight I shut my little eyes!
My mother, realizing that the adult ruse to get me to sleep had had the totally opposite effect, came to my bedside to calm me. “Mommy”, I said – close to tears, “I just can’t go to sleep no matter how hard I try. Santa is going to fly right over our house.”
Hugging me, my mother assured me that Santa had already stopped by our Christmas tree and left his gifts – that I didn’t have to worry. I was not convinced. So Mom took me to the window and told me to “LOOK UP”! She pointed to the starry sky and asked me if I could see Santa flying off in his sleigh.
Mom took a real chance with that question, but it worked! I said, ” Yes! Yes! I see him!”. And the amazing part is that I really did. As a matter of fact, when I think of my mother’s love, I can still see him today in my heart’s memory.
When my mother told me to look up, she didn’t expect me to see Santa in the cold blue sky. She wanted me to see hope, feel love, and be at peace. And by wanting it for me, she gave it to me.
God wants those gifts for us this Christmas and throughout our lives as well. We are invited not to look past, but deeply into and beyond the realities of our lives – to see the gifts hidden in their darkness.
Sometimes we can feel that our life is a bit like the sleepless agitation I experienced so long ago. But in prayer, we can call on God to come and calm us, to point out the blessings flying all around us, to settle us by that Holy Presence of Love which is the true gift of Christmas.
Poetry: The House of Christmas – G.K. Chesterton
There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.
For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.
A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.
This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.
To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.
Music: Jewels – Barbara McAfee