Linger with me just a little longer at a manger this Christmas.
The baby in the manger will soon give way to the accounts we have of the young Jesus going with His family to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover and getting “lost” in speaking with the elders at the temple in Jerusalem. Our days will be taken up with the worries du jour, and what we like to think of as “reality” will dominate our time and our thoughts, and Christmas will be lost again.
So for a little while yet, stay with me near the manger. There is a blessing in lingering here.
The event of our own children’s birth takes each of us to a place of wonder and awe at life and what it means. Though in truth when a baby is born there has been life for about three quarters of the cycle of the seasons, this “new” life is now real to us in ways that we could not quite make out before this event.
Each newborn is an event. Each newborn is unique. Each of us, each of our children is in some way a fulfillment of the past. Here is another segment in the line of the family that will add to the story we tell. Here is a promise of joy and blessing, for the future. But this One whose birth we celebrate is unique in ways that are an even greater mystery. An infinitely greater mystery. An infinitely greater blessing.
We think of family, of our own temporal place in terms of generations and perhaps location. I don’t remember where I read it, but there is a limit to how far our memories go. For the most part, the memory of our family, of our roots, of our existence goes back a hundred years. Three or four generations. The memories of those who came before us by more than 100 years past – maybe 200 years if something impressive happened – all get lost in the dust of time. For me, Prussia in the last decade of the 19th Century has no particular substance in my own thought.
But this One is who John’s Gospel places “in the beginning.” Not the beginning of my all-too-short memory; not at the beginning of the story of Eureka or Greenwood County; in the beginning when creation was new. This is the One who John’s Revelation places as the end. The end of all things. The end; not of my own short story, but the end of all things. This is the One who holds all of our times, all of our families, all of our histories, all of our futures, together.
All our joys and celebrations, our sorrows and disappointments, our hopes and our fears, our successes and our tragedies all come crashing together and find
Peace. In a gift. In a newborn Baby. Here. Now. Stay a little longer.