Christmas Meditation 12.24.14
Tonight is the night we have been waiting for. Waiting the last four weeks as we have journeyed through Advent towards Bethlehem together. But it feels a little different, there are no Easter morning shouts of “Christ is Risen”, just quiet lull-a-byes, trying to sooth the crying baby to sleep.
And shepherds out in the fields, listening to the angels bring tidings of great joy. While Joseph and Mary are there in the stable with their newborn boy, Jesus. And there in the stable Luke tells us that Mary ponders all these things in her heart. We wonder what exactly May is pondering.
The last few weeks a video of the acapella group Pentatonix has had a video floating around Facebook of their rendition of the great Christmas classic, Mary Did You Know? It hauntingly asks many questions that Mary could have been pondering…
Mary did you know, that your baby boy would one day walk on water
Mary did you know, that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you deliver, will soon deliver you.
Mary did you know, that your baby boy, would give sight to a blind man.
Mary did you know, that your baby boy, will calm the storm with his hand
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.
So here in the stable, with her baby boy wrapped in swaddling, Mary ponders. Ponders the wonder of the baby in her arms. Ponders the love that she will share with this child, and that her child will share with the world.
Mary sits there and ponders Emmanuel, God with us. Thinking about Emmanuel, Frederick Buechner writes this:
The Word become flesh. Ultimate Mystery born with a skull you could crush one-handed. Incarnation. It is not tame. It is not touching. It is not beautiful. It is uninhabitable terror. It is unthinkable darkness riven with unbearable light. Agonized laboring led to it, vast upheavals of intergalactic space/time split apart, a wrenching and tearing of the very sinews of reality itself. You can only cover your eyes and shudder before it, before this: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God . . . who for us and for our salvation,” as the Nicene Creed puts it, “came down from heaven.”
Came down. Only then do we dare uncover our eyes and see what we can see. It is the Resurrection and the Life she holds in her arms. It is the bitterness of death he takes at her breast.
At Christmas we ponder with Mary the mystery of the incarnation, of Emmanuel, of God with us.
At Christmas we ponder the Incarnation – God’s total embodiment in human form. God’s love completely poured out for us. God’s grace not just as an idea, but rather as a little child. And as we ponder we remember that before God’s love was shown through a sacrificial death, God’s love was shown in an improbable birth. Before there was a cross, there was a manger.
So tonight, as we celebrate God’s love, we remember not only a baby Jesus, tender and mild. But an adult Jesus, gathered at table with friends sharing a meal. Because when we gather with one another at table, we gather to celebrate God’s incarnation, God’s fully human presence with us in one another.
What an incredible gift it is to ponder together this great Christmas mystery.
The mystery of God’s love born for us, and in us, over, and over, and over again. And to that, all we can say is…
Alleluia, and Amen.
 Frederick Buechner, Christmas, http://frederickbuechner.com/content/christmas-0