IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO DIFFERENT…
A meditation for Midnight Communion
Reading: Luke 2:1-20
It could all have been so different.
The shepherds after all didn’t have to go to Bethlehem.
They had responsibilities in the fields.
Wolves didn’t stay away just because shepherds went sight seeing.
And what would they have said next morning to the owner of
the flock –
News of a baby and a pile of dead mutton rapidly approaching its sell by date?
The shepherds could have stayed put and done their job,
wrapped up in their day to day affairs, fulfilling their responsibilities.
And next morning they could have looked down from on high
to the road winding along the valley way below,
and seen the folk afar making their way to and from the Bethlehem census.
It could all have been so different.
The wise men didn’t have to follow the star.
They were the professors and academics of their day –
always with their heads in their books.
They had many great theories about the meaning of life,
and never stopped arguing and debating.
They were the philosopher kings of their day,
and doubtless they relished the debates they had
as the slave girls brought them sherbet, sweetmeats, cooling drinks
and new writing equipment.
For those who are quickest to speak are not always the first to act.
They could so easily have ended up debating that star,
and wondering about its significance till one night in mid argument
it slipped over the western horizon never to be seen again.
Then might they have turned to their books
and continued their great magnum opus
on the meaning, purpose and direction of life,
their legacy for following generations.
It could all have been very different.
When the girl Mary was confronted by God’s call,
she could have said No.
After all what would Joe say?
She’s committed herself to him, and
how could he understand?
He’d throw her out – or worse.
And I daresay like so many brides
Mary had her life mapped out in her imagination.
Perhaps a quiet little place down the road from her mum
on the edge of Nazareth,
with Joe making a good living
from tables, chairs, odd jobs and coffins.
A growing brood of children to go to Synagogue
and keep the family business going –
Modest dreams, safe well trodden dreams.
Mary could have ignored call, and who knows,
ended up just one of a million mums
in a provincial outpost of Empire.
Of course it wasn’t like that:
Mary said “let it be”
The shepherds heard the angel
The wise men followed the star.
And so all knelt at the manger.
if we had been there that Christmas Eve long ago,
if Christ has come what we would have done in their shoes?
we have put aside our everyday responsibilities
and followed the angel’s directions?
¨ Would we have set out on a journey of discovery into the unknown?
we have had the courage to embrace God’s task
however frightening it might be?
weren’t there 2000 years ago – but we are here to night -
and here, this Christmas night, God comes to us –
as he did of old in a Bethlehem –
He waits to meet us, here at his table.
Whether we come here as part of a lifetime’s spiritual search,
or whether we have casually dropped in on impulse
on the way home from the pub –
the same Christ awaits us this night.
So let this be our prayer this Xmas night each one of us:
to me on this holy night that in the midst of the clamour of life
I may hear the call of angel voices
¨ Show me the way that in the dark sky I may see and follow your star
me our task that deep within me
I may know what it means to serve and love you with all my being.
So Lord may it be,
And so Lord may we find ourselves again at the manger
kneeling with a girl, a shepherd and king.
And finding at our journey’s end the Lord of Glory.