Last week, we looked at Mary and Joseph, Zachary and Elizabeth and their profound places in the story of Christ’s coming to be with us as our brother and Lord. We found that they were also mirrors of ourselves and offer us valuable ways of approaching the Christmas season. Once more, we turn to biblical characters this way, as we consider the innkeeper, the shepherds and magi.
The innkeeper is an anonymous, busy, fleeting figure in the story of Jesus' birth. This innkeeper offered the Holy Family not the best, but the best he had. And God found the best he had enough.
We are innkeepers, too. We admit or keep people from the inn of our hearts, the inn of our homes. Do our kids, coming home from college find comfort in us? Do strangers find comfort? How about the sick for whom we care? Whom do we allow to stay in our homes? Are people nourished physically or spiritually in our inns? We also have inopportune times when our personal inn is full and someone comes knocking. Maybe we can’t offer our best – only the best we can. God will find this enough.
The shepherds and magi were definitely not A-types, bound to the morning. They paid attention to the night – to the star. The star did not discriminate against people. The magi were wealthy in some ways. The shepherds were poor in some ways. It didn’t matter. The shepherds were probably smelly and illiterate – local folk who saw the star in the sky and went straight to the manger. The magi learned about the star from their studies. Like so many worldly-wise, they went to the top first – to Herod. Surely he would know where the newborn king was. Only then did they bring their gifts to Jesus.
In each of us is a shepherd and a magus. We are called in the night to follow the star no matter how much or how little we know. We experience danger and disbelief when we tell others of following the star. The shepherds and magi never met. There are parts of us that don’t meet either. Within ourselves are many worlds and they are all redeemed by Christ.
In fact the whole world is filled with shepherds and magi, each following a star (think refugees and migrants.) Some journeys seem endless or repetitive, like going around a rotary without being able to exit. One thing to keep in mind about our fellow-journeyers: the star does not discriminate against races, nations, classes and genders. See the shepherd and the magus in everyone.
Finally, there’ll be no new blog for the week of December 28, 2015, so here’s a thought we can apply to the turn into a new year. Written in 1905 by Minnie Haskins, I turn to it when facing an unchartered part of life:
I said to a man who stood
at the gate of the year:
Give me a light that I may tread safely
into the unknown.
And he replied,
Go out into the darkness and
put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light
and safer than a known way.
So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
trod gladly into the night.
And God led me toward the hills
and the breaking of the day in the lone east.
So heart be still;
God’s will is best.
Abundant Christmas Grace and Every Blessing for 2016,
Sister Joan Sobala