One of the challenges of the Christmas season is that with all the excitement of gatherings, gift giving, feasting, and travel, it is hard to remember that in very important ways, the Incarnation is the most ordinary, mundane thing possible: a baby was born. To be sure, the particular aspects of this baby and this birth, particulars we have remembered through Advent, are important and strange and different. But at its core, the Incarnation is about God-with-us as us. One of the most beautiful aspects of Incarnation is that it came about through the one human experience every single person ever born has shared. In a very real way, “this was the moment when nothing happened.”
Friday is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the Feast of the Epiphany, the “bringing to light” of the Child to the world. Epiphany is when we hear about the coming of the magi who discover something precious they could never have dreamed of. Another part of the Epiphany reading is Herod’s jealous, fearful response to this birth, the heartrending Slaughter of the Innocents. In other words, with the coming of Jesus, the world stayed pretty much the same, just the same, in fact, as it is now: beautiful, peaceful, joyful moments; terrible trouble and tragedy.
The question, then, is that if the world has not been changed by this birth, this bringing of the light, how might we have been changed?
Wishing you a week of unexpected wandering into haphazard starlight,
This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future’s
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 haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.