On a cold night, tucked away in a stable cut into the countryside, a young lady sits cradling her newborn son. Cattle wonder and watch, while loud sounds from the nearby Inn fill the crisp air. The sky is seemingly bright and active, as Joseph stands in the entryway. This journey has been harsh and difficult, and this is not how he and Mary envisioned the birth of their child. This child is the Son of God, at least that is what the angels said. How could they have wound up out here, amongst wild creatures in an unfamiliar town packed with strangers? And now, these shepherds come, approaching to visit the baby with this most unbelievable story of angels singing! Mary could do nothing else but treasure these moments in her heart…
As we make the transition in our everyday lives from Thanksgiving into Advent, what is it that we see? What moments do we treasure in our hearts? In this past year, some of us have embarked upon long and arduous journeys. Others have stood watch in worry as we feel helpless. In some cases, we have wondered at the miraculous as it revealed itself to us. We have had visitors who have become a part of our story. We have cradled those who are the love of our lives. We have braved hardship and celebrated joy. The sky above has lit up and it has been still and quiet. On so many days, our lives have mirrored the nativity story of Mary and Joseph in some metaphorical way. And now, we prepare again for our own journey to this manger, where we ourselves will keep watch at night with our hearts aglow.
Life can only be defined as repeated transition and transfiguration. At times, we are remarkably frustrated or hurt or sad. On other days, we experience the excitement of renewal and new beginnings. But God’s deep and beautiful Love is the one constant flowing through every breath we take. No matter where you may be today, take a deep breath and know that the air you breathe comes to you directly from God. Give thanks for the miracles that occur even in the midst of sorrow. Give thanks for the greeting of a stranger as you feel alone. Give thanks…because God’s Grace is acting in every time and place. Regardless of what they may bring, treasure these days in your heart. Amen.
-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Elgin, IL)