Dear Parish Family
Throughout Advent and the Christmas season we hear the stories surrounding the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Stories of Angels appearing to individuals and to groups. Creation participating by pointing the “way” by a star. The traditional biblical stories surrounding the birth of the Christ Child.
Mostly we view these stories as arrival stories. The arrival of the angel to Zacharia in the Temple. The arrival of Gabriel to Mary. Mary’s arrival to visit Elizabeth inspiring the Magnificat. Joseph and Mary arrival in Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ Child. The arrival of the shepherds at the manger. The Magi arriving in Jerusalem then at the home where the family was staying. So many “arrivals” to talk about but I would suggest that they speak more about the journey with stops along the way. For me, this is how we connect with the stories. We are all on a journey of faith. On this journey, we experience similar “stops” as are addressed in the Birth Narrative stories.
The “stop” that asks, “Are you willing to jump or skip a “normal” stage of life?” Mary, are you willing to be a mother out of wed lock? A dangerous, challenging choice to make. Do you have the faith to say, “Yes?” Then there are the moments which asks, “Can you follow the leading of the Spirit into the unknown?” A visit of a friend, a “star” or the witness of a stranger? There are also those moments of inspiration which say, “Yes, you can! Just do it.” What I am suggesting is re-reading the Birth Narratives as a reflection of your spiritual journey of faith. Find the connections and how they played out for the characters in the story. Then ask yourself, is that my experience. Did I say no when I should have said yes? Was my faith affirmed as it was for the individuals in the story? Am I at one of those stops which require a leap of faith? This “entering in” the story makes it real and often very powerful. Not just the nice pastoral stories of Christmas but experiences of the Incarnation.
The celebration of the Incarnation is about our belief that Jesus lived and died as one of us. More than a theological concept but a living, transforming experience that God has redeemed all our life. From birth to death, we live in God’s grace. We see and feel His transformative love in our daily lives. This is God’s gift to all of us.
I am well aware our lives a very busy this time of the year. Some enjoying the busyness and others who cannot wait until it is all over. Wherever you are on that spectrum, I encourage you to just find some quiet time to “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” the stories of our faith. They always put things into perspective.
God bless you and be with you always on your journey.
The Reverend Canon David Warren