Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
happened. Only dull peace
sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
could find nothing better to do
than counting heads in remote provinces.
And this was the moment
when a few farm workers and three
members of an obscure Persian sect
walked haphazardly by starlight
into the kingdom of heaven."
Sunday –December 12 – Hebrews 12.28a – “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks…”There is so little certainty in our world. Everything changes much too fast. Our parents grow old and die. Our children do not stay small. One day they are in the Nursery and the next day heading off to college. And we change. Tummies get bigger. We need glasses. We can’t hear quite as well as we did. Hair falls out or thins. And the terrain of our lives shifts—where is John or Don? Where are Margie and Herbert or Harriet and Tommy? Gone. We stood by their graves and said goodbye.
Old timers look out at a world of I-pods, I-phones, I-pads, Kindles, Internet and cell phones. Most of these were not with us 15 years ago. And in five years something new and shiny will render them obsolete. The ground shifts under our feet and it gets scary. And the old book says there is comfort and security in the shadow of God’s wings. In a changing world we reach out for something to hold on to. Most of our recipes don’t work. And this is the Christmas setting for 2010. The days grow shorter and the cold wind blows and we turn slowly toward Bethlehem. We’ve been here before—many times. The story is old and we know if by heart—but every year it comes to us fresh as if we meet it for the first time. Robert McAfee Brown and his family stood before the tiny crèche of the baby Jesus and his family. Here, he wrote, standing before the manger and the Christ child we find a small center of sanity in a wild and crazy world. So much changes—but Bethlehem remains reminding us that in this kind of a world there are wings in which we can find comfort. There really is a kingdom that will never be shaken.
Monday – December 13 – Psalm 41. “Happy are those who consider the poor, the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.” As we move another day closer to Christmas there are 14.8 million people in our country that are unemployed. Long-term unemployment—which means people who have been out of work longer than six months—total over six million of our citizens. To date Congress has refused to extend unemployment insurance any longer—or if they do there will certainly be something in the package for the well heeled. This is a scary time and for the unemployed this is especially a dark season.
I know one family who takes their children and grandchildren and find a family in their community in real need. Each Christmas they provide a Christmas for this family. Instead of giving gifts to each other—they reach out to someone needing help. I know. I know. Churches fill Christmas baskets and other groups provide Christmas dinner for the homeless. Critics say all these efforts are a drop in the bucket—and they are right. And yet I remember Mother Theresa’s words when a reporter asked her why she kept picking up little starving children in India. The task was seemingly endless. She simply said, “Young man, I do what I can, where I am, with what I have.” As Christmas comes we must all find some way “to consider the poor.”