Another Christmas season will soon end.
With great nostalgia and sentiment we recalled the birth in Bethlehem. We set up mini stables within our churches complete with statues of cattle and oxen and wise men. For the twelve days of Christmas the baby Jesus lies in a manger to remind us of the Christmas story.
Epiphany – the visit of the Wise Men to the manger – is the official close of the Christmas season. The decorations are taken down, the tree is packed, and the statues and the Baby Jesus wrapped in newspaper or bubble wrap and put away. We return to the Ordinary Time in the liturgical year whilst in our worship Jesus returns to the Tabernacle.
It often seems to me we are missing something. Something does not seem to fit.
The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us – ” (John 1.14)
The Lord of all exchanged his glory above for humble surroundings. God desired to live amongst us – not in splendid isolation in the heavens. He did not even, in a sense, remain in the Holy of Holies – the Sanctum in the temple at Jerusalem built according to His own decree for the Ark of the Covenant.
With the Incarnation, the glory of God -The Shekinah – now resides in Jesus Christ who walked amongst his people.
He had no fixed dwelling place – “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of Man has no place to lay his head” was Jesus’ response to the rich young man. (Luke 9.57). The message is clear. If you wish to follow Him, you would find Him amongst his people.
Yet ironically we seem determined to put God back where we think He belongs – in cathedrals and temple edifices. The wise men found him amidst his family and Creation; Shepherds heeded the call to go to the manger. We seek Him in buildings of stone.
I do not deny our need for sacred places, sacred spaces, to help us transcend our secular world. Yet is there a vague possibility that we build our churches to satisfy OUR needs, rather than for the glory of God – the God who gave up all grandeur to get his feet dirty and walk amongst us?
As we put away the statue of Baby Jesus carefully protected with bubble wrap until next year, let us also not lock Him up in a box in a church. Rather let us go out and find him amongst this people – for he dwells amongst us still.
No Crib for a bed
Credit : https://manyalaphotography.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/the-son-of-man/#comment-158