A moment of unlimited access

silhouette of trees and mountain under blue starry sky
Photo by Sindre Strøm on Pexels.com

For me, this week is the best part of Christmas.  The advertisements are slowing down, the need to shop has all but stopped, and most of the returns and exchanges have been made.  And with a deep and glorious sigh, I now have time, time to rest in the Christmas season which will not officially end until January 6th.  Growing up in New Orleans I think I took Epiphany traditions for granted.  January 6 was an important day! It was, sadly,  time to take down the Christmas decorations, but it also marked the beginning of Carnival season and my favorite treat the King Cake.  Over time, as with many traditions, the significance of Epiphany has developed into something much more precious.

It is during this time that we reflect on the Magi, also known as the Wise Men, and the Star of Bethlehem.   The wise men, traveling across the desert, saw a star.   Knowing the Old Testament prophecies, understanding the stars, and recognizing that this one was new and in motion, they would have been compelled to investigate.  Faithful to the promises made in history they would seek the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Savior.

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.   Matthew 2:10 (NRSV)

As they entered the house and saw the child with his mother Mary, their reverence and adoration brought them to their knees.  So much hope led them to this place, and in this moment they were given a miraculous gift.

The gift of unlimited access to the love of God was given.

In my mind, it is as if time stood still.  King Herod, the wily and efficient ruler and a cruel tyrant, is forgotten and all the love that is God radiates in the room where the Christ child rests in his mother’s arms.

If we are wise, faithful to the promises and follow the light, we too are given unlimited access to the love of God.

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
    and a light for my path.   Psalm 119:105 (NLT) 

January 5th “Twelfth Night” by tradition I will add the “Three Kings” to my nativity in preparation for Epiphany.  I will pause and contemplate the power in the moment when they saw the star, in the moment when they first laid eyes on the child, the Messiah, who was promised to the people of God, and in the moment when they fell to their knees and worshiped him.   I will take out my Bible, and I will remember that we to have been given a guiding light.   I will recognize that we too have been given unlimited access to the Love of God.  I will let time stand still for a moment, and I will offer my reverence, adoration, and gratitude to, Christ, Emanuel, God with us.

A moment of vulnerability

holy-family

For to us a child is born,

As we move through the Christmas season, it is easy for many of us to lose ourselves in the busyness of it all.  We can become self-centered, snarky, and nervous about family relationships that are already tense much of the year.  Is there anything about this baby in the manger that can really change all that?  How do we cope when those family members are up close and at our Christmas dinner table? 

In this Isaiah passage, we hear a message of hope.  A vulnerable child is born and he will be a Wonderful Counselor and the Prince of Peace.  This is a big expectation of a small child.

Moving forward in the story though, we see that this baby will celebrate an important meal with family and friends, some with whom he had a trying relationship.  Peter and Judas were both at this table.  He knew they did not have his best interests at heart.  They were self -absorbed and caught up in other things.

Jesus, in this moment, wasn’t unkind.  But, he did tell the truth.  He told the group that one of them would deny him and one would betray him.  He knew they would hurt him.  He understood his vulnerability.  He understood the human condition and he understood their vulnerability.  Therefore, in love, he focused that evening on teaching his beloved friends and family about servanthood and showing them what love looked like.

Be kind, for even the people who can’t be trusted to look out for our best interests can still be loved.

Be honest, tell the truth about your own vulnerability.

Be forgiving, it is often their vulnerability that makes others hurt us.

 to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)