O Holy Babe of Bethlehem
“Have you too been deceived? … Look it up and you will see that the prophet doesn’t come from Galilee.” – John7:47, 52 (CEB)
It turns out there is something worse than not knowing holy writ, and that’s thinking that we do. There’s also something worse than losing many of the favorite traditions of a beloved season, and that’s thinking our cherished rituals are what Advent is all about.
Ancient biblical scholars argued that Jesus of Nazareth couldn’t possibly be the Chosen One because scriptures said the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. So certain were they of what they knew, so focused was their search for deliverance, that they completely misread the living love note postmarked “Galilee.”
We, too, have dismissed countless liberating messages because we wrote off the different-from-us, other-than-expected messengers. There are myriad ways to miss the gift of every moment.
Sure, pandemic Advent leaves a lot to be desired. Five days before Christmas Eve, we may be grieving the glories of Christmases past: the unbridled anticipation of children giggling and squirming their way through the pageant, the awe of singing “Silent Night” in the candlelit glow of a beloved sanctuary. Adapt as we must, try as we might, it’s unlikely that singing “Joy to the World” to a computer screen while gazing at our humble homemade wreaths will be the best service ever.
And yet. Maybe all that is different will open our hearts to notice more clearly the many unexpected ways God shows up. Perhaps the ache for what we think we know will draw our hearts ever nearer to the unfathomable wonder of love made flesh.
O holy babe of Bethlehem, o lovelight no pandemic can overcome, may we rejoice in all the ways you come to us.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.