Entering Into the Christmas Narrative
I love a good story, the kind of story you don't mind reading over and over again, one that draws you in, inspires you and teaches you something about yourself and the world around you. In order for me to enjoy a book, I usually have to know about a little bit about the plot (not everything, of course) and many times I look up the ending of the book too. I know some of you cringe at that thought, but for me, I need to know what I am getting into otherwise I won't enjoy the story as much. I know what stories speak to me and what stories will leave me wondering why I read them in the first place. Stories are powerful! They have the power to move us to tears, to make us feel grateful to be alive, to uplift our spirits. But they also have the power to do the opposite--to upset us by unfairness, untimely death of a character, remind us of all that this world lacks and is in need of. This is the time of the year when the Christmas story has been chosen each year for centuries to speak to us, to move us, uplift us, and teach us. During the Advent season, we sing hymns, carols, and read the Story of Christ's birth. We listen again to Mary's Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) and her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Joseph's doubt and ultimate faith (Matthew 1:18-24), Simeon's surprise(Luke 2:22-35), the shepherds' wonder (Luke 2:8-20), and the Magi's journey (Matthew 2). In reading the texts and singing the Christmas story, we enter into the narrative of those who were there and into the community of those who first told the story and who have been telling it and living it over the last 2000 years. We become a part of the story ourselves, transcending the barriers of time and culture to proclaim the Good News with those saints who have done so before us. The Good Story of Jesus who came to this tiny planet in the middle of nowhere in our vast universe as an infant, completely dependent on the imperfect human beings who were his care takers. God come to Earth to show us, to teach us, to draw us in, and to inspire us.