More than just a special baby
Bible Reading: Matthew 2:13-23
When life is good, and when life is confusing, or painfilled, or uncertain
From the very beginning, God, through the person of Jesus, was exposed to the brutality and uncertainty of life. We see that in the fleeing to Egypt and we see it in Jesus' birth in a dirty stable. Mostly, we gloss over that and imbue Jesus' birth and early years with a pastoral glow - that golden light that streams all over in the margarine ads. And we expect that each Christmas will be as filled with cheer and goodwill as our fantasy first one.
With todays reading though, we see Jesus' early months and years quite differently. It is just not possible to see the flight into Egypt as the equivalent of a holiday down at the coast. Take away the prophecy and the angel speaking in a dream and its a very black story: before Jesus was still just an infant he and his parents were homeless, they became refugees. The were forced from their home by political realities that they could neither understand nor control.
It's a common story today. This was the world into which Jesus was born. The real world, and not one particularly filled with joy and Christmas cheer. ~ God then is not untouched by or unfamiliar with human suffering. Jesus' formative years were filled with suffering and hardship - his own, and that of people around him. But the fact that Jesus went through what we do is no real consolation and it can be hard to find hope in it.
Where we find our hope is that all the way through, there was never a time when Jesus was not God's child. Never a time when he was not wholly, totally loved by God. Our hope is that that is true for each of us too! Each of us is God's child, and there is NEVER a time when we are not wholly and totally loved by God.
Whatever. Wherever. Whenever
And if we can internalise that truth, then we can allow Jesus to grow up: we can allow him to move out of the crib in the stable and into the world. Christ as a babe speaks the truth of God's great and aching love for us, but Christ as an adult, Christ the revolutionary, Christ who not only tolerated but loved and respected women, Christ who loved children and saw the holy in them, Christ who could see beyond our surface and into the warp and weft of our being, - that Christ calls us into the world with him.
We can take with us the gifts of the crib the hope - the peace, the joy and the love - but we won't really own these gifts until we use them in our daily lives. Until we work for peace and justice, until we hope for a social transformation in our neighbourhoods, until we can feel and express joy when life is good for the people we see in our workplace, or our school, or our streets. Until God's love spills out of us all over, because we really understand what it means that God is with us always. ~Until we make God's dream for the world our own