Thursday (December 23, 2021)
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9
It is a not-very-well-kept secret among pastors that whenever we get home on Sunday, when the workday is finally over, we mostly melt in a chair somewhere and do something that is not in the least bit “productive.” Sometimes, for me, this means working a crossword puzzle… even more often it means watching an old movie that I have seen a dozen times before.
Actually, there are very few movies or books that I love enough to do this with. But there are a few… a few great films, a few novels, a few operas or plays, a few old poems or folk tales, a few Bible stories that I tell one more time with my little wooden drum to a church full of people who probably know the story better than I do. There are those few precious expressions that I can come back to again and again.
And even though I know every line by heart and know exactly how it all turns out in the end, for some reason, there is always something fresh and surprising in the experience; some little thing that was always there but that I never noticed before, or something that reminds me again of why I love it so much. I think it is because even though the story doesn’t change at all, I have changed. And in bringing something new of my own into the relationship, all things are made new.
The season of Advent is coming to an end, now; Christmas is right around the corner and the new Church year has begun. But even though we will be hearing the old story this year through the lens of St. Luke rather than St. Mark, I have to be honest enough to tell you (spoiler alert!), that I doubt if you will hear much of anything that you haven’t heard before: same child, same humble origins, same villains and scoundrels, same clueless disciples, same cross, same empty tomb.
And yet, the old story that contains nothing much new under the sun, invites you, this Christmas, to bring something into relationship with that story that has never been there before – this year’s sorrows and joys, victories and defeats, breakthroughs and disappointments, all the things you have done or failed to do. It is a season that invites you one more time to lay all that you are and all that you have in front of the old chipped and worn manger that shows up under the tree in exactly the same place every year… and then step back, with the wide open and expectant eyes of a child and behold the fresh and completely surprising miracle of birth.
Pastor Wayne Miller
Stir up your power, O God, and come. In your great love, receive now all that we lay in the straw beside the manger; our joys and tears, hopes and fears, confidence and doubt. Transform them all into a source of wonder and gratitude for the gift of your son. Amen.