Advent is a time of looking forward to. Whats coming is the Nativity. The Word of God made manifest, made flesh. The word of God was made manifest to Moses on Mount Sinai. It, this manifestation, was accompanied by thunder, lightening, great dark and billowing clouds, the earth quaking. Fear and trembling. Intimidating. Now, in just a few days, the Word comes again. Intimidating? No. A babe. Small, helpless, harmless. A lot like something as benign as bread and wine. Non-threatening. Everybody loves a baby. I think of Mary and Joseph, the animals around them lending warmth to a winter scene like no other. Original manger scene. I’m taught much by the visitors. Saint Benedict tells me, in the Rule, that when visitors come I ought to pay special attention to the poor. That’s because the awe inspired by the very rich guarantees them a good reception. And the first visitors aren’t the great, the monied, or the powerful. They’re the poor, the ignorant, the timid. The shepherds. And they are accorded every bit as much respect as the soon to come magi, loaded down with their costly gifts. But these shepherds are loaded as well. Blessed are the poor in heart for they shall see the kingdom of God. A sacrifice pleasing to God, a worthy offering, is a humble and contrite heart. Frankincense and myrrh have their place. But first things first. And these shepherds were first. Mount Sinai was rightfully intimidating. The Word of God should inspire awe. And what is, honestly, more awe-inspiring? A pillar of fire followed by a cloud of smoke? The earth a quake beneath my feet? Where is God found? In a still, small voice. Perhaps a baby voice? In this instance I think so. The only thing more awe-inspiring than life would be, I think, the Author of life manifest as a new life, a baby. Next to that? The reception of fallen humanity, the shepherds, into the King’s presence first, before anyone or anything else. Perspective. He put creation in perspective. And He did it from a manger.

(And after He put creation in perspective He put it right. But that comes after another waiting period. Lent.)

Published in: on December 9, 2010 at 5:53 pm  Comments Off on Nativity