By Derick Cranston
In a rural backwater village, a 14-year-old girl says “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done unto me according to your word.” And the Creator of the universe enters into humanity.
God has broken into time and creation; the wise men begin their trek to bring gifts to the babe in a manger. All of creation is pulled into the cosmic flow of God’s existence. The angels burst out in heavenly praise, and the shepherds in the fields are the first to behold God incarnate, the Christ child.
The arc of the sun in the sky is at its lowest ebb. The days are becoming shorter and the nights are longer. At times our spiritual light fades, too, and the darkness in our lives lasts longer. But just as the nights become longest, the North Star appears in the midnight sky and there is hope.
Its brightness draws the wise men of the East on a journey to find God. We are drawn as well on our journey to find God, drawn by the hope that was given to us on that silent night in Bethlehem.
The ark of the Son, the mother of Jesus, is at her lowest ebb, weary after laboring to deliver this hope into the world. Ours is a faith based on hope. A belief that not only has God entered into the world, but will come again in glory to bring all of creation into divine communion. God has poured himself out into creation, and now his creation returns to him. We are led by the light of the resurrection and guided by the Holy Spirit. We follow the star of the risen Christ to find God and offer up our gifts to him.
It is a journey fraught with setbacks and difficulties, just as I am sure it was for the wise men of the East. We stumble and fall, and sometimes do not focus on the light that leads us to salvation. Off in the distance though, we hear a faint echo. If we listen closely, we can recognize the angelic voices that proclaim the coming of God.
Poor frightened shepherds are the first to hear the good news. It is they, the meek and the humble, who first behold the glory of God. We are laden down with our fine gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We cling to our material possessions and yet know in our heart of hearts, that in the end all must be offered up to God.
We trudge on through the night and can faintly make out the music that is produced in our own lives. Everything we do — all the decisions we make, all our actions, and the way we treat each other — produces a kind of rhythm and melody. It is up to us whether we want to add our music to the heavenly choir of God’s revelation.
If we are truly wise, we will join the angels in singing the divine praises of our savior. We will return to God and offer up all we have to our Creator. We will worship in the cosmic liturgy of God’s creation.
(Derick Cranston is youth minister for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He is going through diaconate formation and can be reached at email@example.com.)