Posts Tagged ‘Nativity’

Ezekiel 4Inevitability

Friday, October 6, 2017

Michelangelo: Ezekiel

Today’s post is a reprise from December 24, 2011. We have an opportunity to consider the possibility of recovering from calamity, an opportunity to accept the gift of Christ, God Among Us. Let us imagine that we are about to celebrate the gift of the Nativity. And let us be grateful for God’s greatest gift of self for God’s generosity, love and goodness are inevitable. 

There is a certain inevitability about Ezekiel’s prophecy.  He is certain that his predictions will come to pass.  From our place in history centuries later, we can easily see that what seemed impossible for Judah and Jerusalem does indeed take place.  Their fortified city is besieged and destroyed; their powerful and comfortable leaders are killed or deported.  Why did anyone doubt Ezekiel and the other prophets?  They reported what they saw in the present and what they saw to come.  They were accurate, so why did anyone have reservation about their words?   Most likely it was because the naysayers had too much invested in the corrupt system.  We might learn a lesson from all of this.

There is a certain inevitability about Jesus’ story.  He comes to tell us that he is Emmanuel – God Among Us From our place in human history we can read about the miracles he performed.  We can also number the times that impossibilities take place in our own lives.  Jesus tells us that he will be destroyed and yet rise again in new life.  He tells us that he has come to take us with him on this amazing journey as his well-loved sisters and brothers.  Jesus tells us what the Creator has asked him to report to us: that we are free, liberated from anything that holds us to the material world in which we live.  This freedom includes freedom from anxiety and stress.  Why do we cling to our old and familiar discomfort when there is a newness offered to us without cost?  Why do we behave as those who heard but ignored Ezekiel’s words?  Do we doubt what Jesus has told us?  What are the reservations we have about his words or his actions?  On this eve when we celebrate his coming into the world as a vulnerable baby, why do we continue to ask for additional proofs and for further assurance that he will complete his promise to bring us to the new life he experiences?  Why do we hang on to our fears and reject the possibility of joy?

Gerard Van Honthurst: The Nativity

So on this Christmas Eve, as we await midnight in order to join in praise of God’s goodness to us, we have this to ponder about our own acceptance of what we have heard and what we have seen.  What is it about Jesus’ story we do not believe?  What are the further proofs we demand before we accept the prophecy of his coming as true?  Who has lured us away from the one true story of redemption and the promise it holds for all?  How have we become like those who hear but so not listen?  When will we tire of hiding behind subterfuge, of supporting corrupt systems and people?  Why do we persist in being as blind as the inhabitants of Jerusalem to whom Ezekiel spoke?

Let us reflect on God’s gift of inevitability as we pray . . .

Tomorrow is the feast of Christ’s birth . . . the feast of the birth of newness in each of us.

Tomorrow is the celebration of a new-found freedom . . . the celebration of our release from fear and anxiety.

Tomorrow is the commemoration of the arrival of hope and God’s promise . . . the commemoration of God’s coming to dwell among us. 

God’s love is inevitable.  Let us cease our resistance.  Let us rejoice in this good news and be glad.  Amen.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

nativity-story-gathering[1]Luke 2:15-20

Reflections of the Heart

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Pain and happiness. Amazement and worry. Wonder and joy.  A gamut of emotions in such a short few days.

Joseph and the child. Shepherds and angels.  Innkeepers and oxen.  Extraordinary companions for such a new mother.

God says: Mary is wise to ponder all things in the heart.  It is from this pondering that she gains wisdom and fortitude.  It is in this abiding with me that she discovers courage and patience.  It is from her love of me that she finds persistence and hope.  When Mary keeps these things in her heart she hides from no one; rather, she gathers a new strength for the journey before her, a fresh perspective of the past that lies behind, and a deep reverence for the holy present.  Each moment of each life is as precious as the moment you read about today.  Each moment of your lives holds more love from me than you can imagine.  Ponder these things in your heart. Reflect on these things in your heart.  And remember me.

Mary knows that the road she travels with this special child will be as fraught with problems as her journey to Bethlehem has been.  She also knows that the shepherds who arrive in the quiet darkness have sought and found her small family by knocking on many doors in their determined search.  Faith, persistence, endurance and courage.  As Mary greets her son’s first visitors, she ponders all these things in her heart.

To view a clip of the 2006 film Nativity Story:The Birth of Christ depicting the arrival of the shepherds and wise men, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Lpv77EdxF4 

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No Room

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


El Greco: Adoration of the Shepherds

Luke 2:4-7

No Room

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Scowling as we read these words we easily say that we would have offered this small family a room if we had we lived in that place and that time.  Yet each day we are offered the opportunity to welcome this small child of hope into a place of rest and refuge that we take time to prepare.  Each day we are given the opportunity to offer Christ a place in our hearts and homes.

God says: You prepare for an important sports event, bringing food and party decorations into your home; yet many of my children go hungry. Will you open your hearts and homes to them?  You buy and wrap presents, make travel and work plans when a holiday approaches; yet many of my children have no roof under which to shelter.  Will you open your hearts and homes to them?  You lay down deposits, call family and friends to coordinate a vacation in the mountains, at the beach or in a far-off city; yet many of my children have no families or friends to protect them and no place to shelter from danger?  Will you open your hearts and homes to them? 

A solitary person can make change in the world when listening to and acting in God.

Just one of us can offer a moment of respite, a meal and a place of safety to one who is lost.

The Christ Child and his family call at our door each day.

Do we open our hearts and homes to them?  Do we offer this child a room?


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Monday, Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012

Psalm 87 – Birthplace

Pontormo: The Visitation

Detail from “The Visitation” by Jacopo Pontormo

Within you is my true birthplace.

In yesterday’s Gospel reading of Mary’s visitation (Luke 1:39-45) with her cousin Elizabeth we heard again the familiar story of how the child John leapt for joy in his mother’s womb, knowing that the Redeemer was near.  The pre-Messiah era was drawing to a close and these two women alone knew what the rest of the world would in time discover. The old way was about to be swept into a raw newness.  The present laws of the One God with whom these people lived in covenant were about to be superseded by the Law of Love.  These two women greeted one another; one was quite young and at the beginning of her life, the other was beyond child-bearing years and yet heavily pregnant.  These two women shared the Good News that would be shunned by some and believed by many.  Elizabeth would bring to life the child John who would announce the great coming.  Mary had become the New Ark of the New Covenant. 

Within you is my true birthplace.

The Jewish people into whose traditions and customs the young Jesus was born believed that God dwelt in the great Temple in the holy city of Jerusalem.  Today’s Noontime reflection reminds us of how much God loves his holy city the gates of Zion, more than any dwelling in Jacob (Israel).  And from this city the people of God were divided and sent into exile.  As this Diaspora lived for centuries in scattered places they mourned the loss of their center, their core.  When the city and Temple were later restored they made long pilgrimages to this holiest of places. The entire focus of this people rested in this one sacred site.  This people saw their origin and their destiny as rising from this one hallowed place: the Jerusalem Temple. 

Within you is my true birthplace.

When the angel Gabriel announces to Mary the coming of the Spirit upon her he also announces the changing of all the world knew and understood about God, and yet this change had been predicted by Judaism’s own prophets.  When Mary agrees to become the Ark of the New Covenant she knows that the world will never be the same.  We might wonder how much she understood the scope of this change.  From her humble smallness, did she fully comprehend the effect her son would have on the history of the world?  Might she have completely grasped the depth and breadth of his coming?  Did she know that her simple acquiescence was a remarkable response to a complex question?  Did she entirely recognize that in her singular act she had become the one true birthplace of not only the Messiah but the New Covenant as well?

Within you is my true birthplace.

Pontormo: The Visitation

Pontormo: The Visitation

Except for those who do not believe, the world holds its collective breath as it awaits the arrival of the Christ child.  Within you is my true birthplace.

Except for those who refuse to follow, the world waits to burst into celebration the arrival of Healing and Redemption.  Within you is my true birthplace.

Except for those who reject this new birthplace within, the world makes ready each heart for the in-dwelling of the Spirit.  Within you is my true birthplace.

As this Nativity so ardently predicted and so eagerly awaited draws near, let us remember Mary’s fiat – her simple answer of Let your will be done to me – and let us celebrate this new birthplace of Salvation.  Let us be glad and sing out in one accord with shepherds and kings and angels that we see and welcome this new, this true, this one . . . birthplace of Peace.

To learn more about The Visitation  by Pontormo, click on the images or go to: http://mydailyartdisplay.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/the-visitation-by-jacopo-pontormo/

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