Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Monday, December 15

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!”
—Luke 22:52-53

As we move closer and closer to Christmas, the Church's readings remind us of things closer to Good Friday than the manger in Bethlehem. What kind of trick is this? Why on earth have the Church Mothers and Fathers given us such images as we prepare for the child in Bethlehem.

In "The Journey of the Magi," T. S. Eliot asks, "were we led all that way for Birth or Death?" It seems there is wisdom in the Church's selections, for if we keep Jesus safely in a manger, we miss the whole point of who Jesus is. We end up with a ceramic doll of a God, a lifeless toy God unable to transform us, unable to redeem us.

Jesus comes to us as a real human being, one that sweats, toils, labors, scratches his head in confusion, and experiences pain and suffering in the face of disease, death and despair. As a baby he cries, feels hunger in his belly, and cold upon his face. He longs for his mother when he falls. He seeks the wisdom of his father when other children taunt him on the playground. He is real. Completely human.

And he walks the way to the cross with and for us. That love is the reality of the feast we call Christmas, and it is the foundation of who God is in our understanding. Certainly, we focus upon the innocent child asleep in the manger; that's just what happens at this time of year. But we must also remember the whole pathway of our God. Not an easy journey. Not an arrival of power and might. A humble, loving, in-this-world arrival. An arrival to you and to me just as we are.

And for this reminder from Eliot and the readings of the Church, let us give thanks. Most of us would not remember without them; we would be content with a toy God upon the hay. Thanks be to God for the real Jesus, the one who comes for birth and death, for life and resurrection.

God, you come in the innocent child Jesus, yet your journey is beyond the manger. Help me see all the love that you pour into my life and let that love transform me into your servant. Amen.