We know the story. Maybe we know it too well. Many of us barely made it to Bethlehem in time to hear the angels sing. Then we get lost in the crowds because we don’t want to hear about the slaughter of the innocents. And who wants to wait around for the magi to show up with their odd gifts? The world has moved on. The Christmas items that have been for sale since October have been replaced with Valentines. Christmas doesn’t really end until January 6th, but for most of us it is already a hazy memory and we’ve moved on to New Year’s celebrations and shoveling snow.
It’s important to stop and take a breath and ask if the Magi are worth waiting for. Christmastide is twelve days long, shorter than all other liturgical seasons. It should not matter that the commercial side of the holiday has been going on for months. On the Church side of things, something spectacular is happening. We are welcoming the Light of Christ into the very darkness that always tries to overcome it. We are waiting for those who come with Wisdom, bearing gifts to honor the One who came in innocence to lead us through the darkness.
When a quick scan of the news reveals several dead in a car bombing in Beirut, a priest murdered in California, a 10 week old baby beaten in New Hampshire, and violence in Sudan, it’s clear to me that the world is still in much need of sacred light. So what are we doing rushing from one thing to the next, without taking notice of why where going or how we’re getting there? And when we see those bright spots of blessing in our lives and in the world around us, how do we express our gratitude and share the blessing with others?
Here’s my problem. I love Christmas, the quiet beauty that peaks through the chaos. I know that God breaks into chaos all the time. But once, in a crowded city, God became incarnate. I want to spend time with that mystery and find that holy child before I run to the next thing. I want to wait for Wisdom to show up and share her gifts. I don’t want to leave this season for the next with my heart cluttered and my spirit exhausted. I don’t care if the stores have moved on to Valentine’s Day or that most of my neighbors have taken down their Christmas lights, I need to be still a little longer while the lights of Christmas flicker. I need to savor the sacred stillness in the moments between what was and what will be. The Magi are on their way. Wisdom approaches in the midst of everything. I’m willing to wait. Are you?
Or the readings for Epiphany
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14