Christmastide Day 1: Humble beginnings

The way we like to interpret the birth of Jesus is that Mary and Joseph were poor.   All we really know is there just wasn’t enough room in the inn.  They tried to get a room so they obviously had enough for a night in a first century hotel in Bethlehem.  It’s a detail that doesn’t really matter.  There are weightier matters at work in this story.

The ancient prophet Micah once wrote the beloved words, “walk humbly with your God.”  What could be more humbling than for two parents, penniless or not, to have no other option than to lay their newborn child in a feeding trough? These humble beginnings are woven in the words and deeds of Jesus to the very end.  Through his humble nature some are lifted up, while others are brought down alongside the rest of humanity (and rightly so).

Once again God works through an unlikely scenario- in this case an unlikely child.

So, for those of us who celebrate the birth of Jesus today and claim to be his followers,  it would serve us well to, once again, be reminded it isn’t about the one we see in the mirror.  This child will spend the rest of his earthly life trying to get those who will listen to see “others” and teach people to embrace those “others” with dignity, respect, and mercy, particularly those without the means and voice to advocate for themselves.

So, in the spirit of how it began, walk humbly my friends.  Prepare for the unexpected.  Embrace the other.

“The Name Cuts Deep”, by Saffen

The Name Cuts Deep

Here’s another one.
A boy, eight days old.
It’s time: time to cut away
Unneeded flesh, to sign the scar
Of God in manchild’s private place.
No one else will know but him and his.

The rite calls for a name.
Have you a name yet, son?
What shall we call you, little giant?
Call his name “Jesus”? Why?
Because he’ll save his people?
What a huge load for such little shoulders.
What dreams parents have, what expectancies,
Poor little child, to have God’s work
Assigned so soon.

Cut the name in deep. Tattoo it indelibly on tortured Hebrew flesh.
Scare it with raw wounds to acquaint you early
With cross and barbs and nail.
You’ll be Jew soon enough to know

The Name cuts deep in certain flesh.
Now you belong to God.
There’s no escaping that.
His name for eternity. Get used to it now.
“Jesus” is the handle you’ll get used by.
You’ll wish you could change your name
Into incognito, when the whole world
Calls it out in curse and prayer.

Go home for now, lacerated boy,
Don’t grow up too soon. 

by Wayne Saffen