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Since we waited four hours for friends to stop by on Christmas Day to drop something off, and I straightened and organized the house, got dressed, put on makeup, when all I really wanted to do was spend the day in my new gray sweatpants, I may do that today. We’ll see.

The sun is streaming in our windows at the moment, though clouds are predicted. For the moment, random splashes of light are working their way up the staircase and take my thoughts to higher things as I notice there is no light shining on me.

But as I work, I see a spot of light on my big toe, then a patch on my left knee, then streaks up my right calf, until suddenly, I too, am drenched in light.

We’ve had days of rain and cloudy, misty weather. Each morning we wake up, I keep asking if there is snow. Actually, I can fool myself into thinking I see snow on the trees outside the bedroom window. That’s fun.

And now, right here—imagine this—the entire space is drenched in light.

I think this is what it means to see with child-like wonder. Advent and the waiting, Christmas and the celebrating, are now two days past. They have come and gone and the Savior didn’t come in the clouds.

Sometimes I imagine: what if he did? And through all the mist and fog, through the great billows of smoke and fire, dust and flying debris, he came to Bethlehem and we didn’t see? Jesus said there will be a trumpet blast and great groupings of angels when he returns.* But what if there was a heavenly blast just south of Jerusalem, and he arrived there in Bethlehem, and there he remains, unnoticed, and the angels came and got busy?

What if the first group mentioned in the Bible, has been swept up by the four winds into the sky, and are now in their new dwelling places?*

What if we find we are in the midst of the “great distress unequaled from the beginning of the world until now,” that Jesus spoke of?* Will we live any differently?

Because the earth gives way to earthquakes and famines.* Volcanoes and hurricanes and floods are every day these days. “God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay…remember Christ the Savior was born…to save us all from Satan’s power.”

It’s quiet in this room where I’m writing as heinous acts explode and continue on the other side of the globe. Infectious diseases have been somewhat controlled, they say, but how long before cholera and dysentery win? Where, oh where, do I go from here with my words, Lord…?

Martin Luther wrote in a sermon that “this is indeed the whole of scripture in its briefest form: no more words and books are necessary, but only life and action.”* What if you’re a writer…does writing count as action…? Perhaps the only story ever needed was written by Luke. But then we wouldn’t have Paul’s writings about the reign of sin and what to do about that. And…

Isn’t there always a need for old stories to be told in new ways?

But when is enough, enough?

As writers, we know that the problem comes when the central theme of a story goes missing. What is the central theme in the books we’re currently writing or reading or in the stories we’re streaming?

Over the holidays, Todd and I watched a Christmas movie each day. My nephew’s kids call them “Cheesy Christmas stories”. They may warm our hearts a little, but they don’t ignite them. They tell of love between two people meant to be together that find each other, but, one or maybe both, don’t recognize love when they see it, until they do, and then the movie ends. They end up together all wrapped up in love. And then what comes? Life, disappointment, sin, emptiness that all the riches and successes in the world can’t resolve on their own.

These days, we are barely able to see or find the true light of Christmas as we go on living in the false sense—in a self without a Savior. We don’t even seem to need this Christmas light.

The Bible of course takes all this very seriously, and doesn’t take lightly our every day human cares, and the children dying from disease and malnutrition, and our own soul’s starvation. By revealing the incomprehensible dominion of violence in our souls and in the world today, it deepens our longing for grace and peace. Scared shepherds become the messengers. If anything, have we learned to recognize that blessed are the poor in spirit, and those who hunger and thirst?* For without that, we see nothing of the light of the glory of God.

When, like a shepherd, we live or speak or use our-selves to reach the hearts of those overcome by poverty, we change. Don’t we? And when we do, our hearts and goals change. Don’t they?

Will we join with the Magi this Epiphany Season, and see the Child in Bethlehem today appearing in many children around us? Will we recognize the Christchild’s Mother, Mary, still seeking a room in the inn? Will she find it?

The shepherds, the lowly, despised, the gentle yet rejected, rise up, leaving their fears behind and set forth for Bethlehem.

What will they find? We know the answer, don’t we?

Can we, will we, have we set out for Bethlehem? Because it’s much closer than we think or can imagine. I’m beginning to wonder if my only job is to ask questions…?

“Feed my sheep,” Jesus says to Peter,* and, still, to us today.

Can we find the deep truths in simple things as we respond to the miraculous happening around us? For lying in a manger there was a simply miraculous thing happening.

“This prophecy from Micah had been given seven centuries earlier:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means last among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”*


* (Asterick) notes references to outside sources used, mostly scripture read and wrestled with (in order): 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Matthew 24; From “Watch for the Light”, Martin Luther sermon, p. 224; Matthew 5: 3, 6, Matthew 2: 1-12, John 21:17. Maybe it’s time to start using footnotes. But Frederick Beuchner doesn’t, necessarily. I like that. It messies up the reading. I think… Do I even need the asterisks? Maybe what I need is an editor.

Photo: taken from our kitchen window.

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