It’s not the shopping. It’s not the decorations. It’s not the music, not the food or drink, not the parties, not the carols, not the wreath. It’s not the outside at all.
It’s birth. Something new happens—regardless of the nowhere setting; regardless of no news, no crowds, no house, no hotel, or no retreat center. They came to the place of no distractions. Maybe that’s why they were able to focus on the birth.
They paid no attention to the dark times. Let’s remember what kind of ruler Herod was. Weeks after the birth, he murdered all the male babies. Even so, this was the time for the birth.
Our hope and prayer for us and you and this broken world is for birth. No Christmas like the ones we used to know, but something completely new and too outlandish to utter but too essential to relinquish.
For us, 2018 has been filled with good things in our lives---Bam/Porter loves his teaching and students at Wake Forest and Jo’s dream of a studio isn’t a dream anymore because it’s here. And more.
But you know the world in which we live. You know what it’s like to watch the news or read the paper.
It’s enough. It’s way past enough. The truth is we as a people can’t find our way out of this mess and so our deep yearning must for the birth.
The birth of civility—no more Charlottesville. The birth of kindness—no more disrespect of heroes. The birth of peace—no more people shot in the streets. The birth of home and genuine community--no more despair—47,000 Americans committed suicide in 2017. The birth of true callings and true relationships and true citizenship--no more irreconcilable divisions and the daily bombardment of what is not our true calling and our true life. No more.
Here’s the thing—as the poet Jane Hirschfield wrote, “Hope is the hardest love we carry.” This is the time to yearn for the birth and finding our heart’s deep home. The world’s mess is too deep for presents or ornaments or food. We need God to be born in us and in this world and to make everything new.
As the hymn says, “the bleak midwinter” is the time for us to pray for the birth and to be filled with the hope that God will be born in us and in all persons so that the light will burn so bright no darkness can overcome it.