This coming Sunday, we remember the travelers who visited the infant Jesus at his birth. They came bearing gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh – and came from a far place following a distant star. They came seeking power and expected a king. They arrived at the door of the stable and discovered not a king, but vulnerability in the form of an infant lying in a manger.
They were brought to their knees by that child. They laid down their gifts and were freed to see our world as God sees. Their reality was changed from a worldview of authorities who maintained control through magic or governments, armies, or kings, to a worldview which recognized the power of God’s glory, which is whole, pure love.
For us to enter the place where we can be brought to our knees, we will have to make a conscious decision to turn our eyes to the star in the heavens. To enter the stable where all love, all hope, and all faith is incarnate in a tiny child, we will need to travel light, lest our hands become too full to receive the gift the child offers to us. That travel takes time, prayer takes time, and the heart takes time to grow the space into which love can enter.
Creating that time and space will mean letting go of a few things and settling for not having everything just the way you feel it should be. It means inhabiting our own limitations and those of others more fully. But the creation of a holy space is the very space where God “whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” In discovering that wholeness and joy, we are released from unrealistic expectations and we can stand in wonder at the stable door. The load will indeed be lighter, the star brighter, and the baby more beautiful than we could imagine.
Then we may join in the words of the Eastern Orthodox liturgy:
O my child, child of sweetness
How is it I hold thee, Almighty?
And how that I feed thee
Who givest bread to all?
How is it that I swaddle thee,
Who with the clouds encompasseth the whole earth?
The Rev. Susan N. Eaves