This past week I saw the above picture from a friend and was reminded how I used to lay under our tree growing up, just staring at our nativity set. We kept ours on the floor under the tree, a tradition we have kept with my own family. My growing up creche had a orange Christmas light bulb in it that gave a warm glow that invited me in. I do not remember what my thoughts were, or where my mind roamed, but I do remember feeling peaceful. Whether it was the warm glow, or my just being still, there was a peace that would come over me. This was one of my favorite things about Christmas. I guess I have forgotten that part, even though I love my nativity set, and actually am very intentional to have a nativity set in every room so I will remember the purpose of celebrating this season. Somehow even with all my best intentions, I have forgotten to be still, and wonder. I wonder what I wondered about back then, if anything, or if I was able to just be still, and be in the moment. I wonder when I lost the ability to do that. or the desire. It makes me a bit sad to think that piece got lost for so long.
This season as I try to get back that wonder, I am wondering why it is so hard. Even when I am still, I am not still many times. This season I have had my goods days, and many not so good days with this. I find I am better at being still in my soul when I am schlogging, or driving. Not sure if that is my new reality, or not. I am trying not to judge myself in that, and just continue practicing listening and being still. I am leaning in closer to the story as I practice “gospel contemplation,” I am listening closely for the sounds, smells, sights, and possible feelings.
As I flip between Matthew and Luke, and then back to the prophets, I am amazed at these people, and I am amazed at God. I am amazed and wonder about Mary who was puzzled at lacking understanding as to how this all could be, but willing to submit to God’s highest best for her and for the world. I admire her courage and faith in God. I wonder and am completely amazed at Joseph’s gentle kindness to Mary after he finds out she is pregnant with a child who is not his. His desire to protect her in the middle of what would have been such heartbreaking news to him is amazing. I am also amazed at his faith and courage. Faith to believe the angel in his dream, and courage to follow through. I can only imagine the hardship and trouble it caused him, and possibly his business, and family relations. I am amazed at how God spoke words to prophets hundreds of years before that came to pass in Jesus “at just the right time when everything was just as it should be (Don Nagy).” These things that seemed impossible to happen on any day, came to pass in the fullness of time because no word of God returns void. From the garden of Eden in Genesis to that moment, all of this was being orchestrated to bring us back. God had written the story, and moved the hearts at just the right time, and in just the right way, not because He is some control freak, or for His entertainment, but for us so that we might be able to have whatever proof we feel we need to increase our faith. He knows us and knows we need to be able to connect the dots, and even in our faith we want proof. Again I am thankful that His mercy is new every morning, and He knows we are but dust, and still pursues us, and enters into the world He created to rescue us from our junk. I am amazed at a God like that. No other religion can boast of such a God. Before time He was working out a plan that involved the fullness of time to come for us, and rescue and redeem us, so we might be able to live with Him forever. What a wonderful God, Emmanuel, God with us.