Sunday, January 1, 2012
Numbers 6:22-27; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21
Three Key Words
Three words are touchstones in today's Gospel: amazed, treasured, returned. Why would God choose shepherds as heralds of his Son's birth? They were generally regarded as smelly and untrustworthy. Yet, perhaps because they were so unsophisticated and earthy, they could look beyond a scene which others might see as squalid (birth in a stable? a newborn in a feeding trough?). They had the grace to be amazed. Somehow, they saw the divine in the human, teaching us who follow to look for grace in unexpected circumstances.
Mary didn't seem surprised by what happened in Bethlehem; the angel's promise had prepared her for an unusual son. But she treasured and reflected on what was happening. She models how we too should respond to the varied happenings of our days. Activity can easily become a blur unless we, like Mary, take time for quiet meditation. What is God showing me through these events, people, or places?
When the shepherds returned, it could have been as anti-climactic as the end of the holiday. After what was probably the greatest event of their lives, they went back to the routine of tending sheep. Instead of being disappointed, they praised and glorified God. They were different people. They carried within their hearts the rich truth: God dwells among us as one of us.
Painted by Rein Nomm
Oslo Gospel Choir - Come let us sing