The Day After Christmas -- Reflection
The news doesn’t stop. War. Terrorism. Disease. Hunger. Racial and sectarian violence. Political oppression, bombast, and ineptitude. Lawlessness and injustice. Environmental degradation and industrial catastrophes. Fires. Floods. Homelessness. Mental illness. Cynicism. Alienation. Families torn apart. Loneliness.
Darkness and doubt exhaust our souls, magnify our fears, and erode our hopes.
And into this bitter world comes a child. What has God done?
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
Matthew 1: 23
More than a decade ago now, I was driving my son to a December evening soccer practice—during rush hour and in the dark, of course. The northern Virginia road we needed to take was packed with cars alternately stopped and speeding to try to make the traffic lights. I was tired and grumpy. I had begun my day at 4:30 AM, rushed home from work, dropped my work things in the laundry room, and collected my son to drive him to yet another soccer practice that would delay dinner until 9:00 PM or later. As I interrogated my son about his day and tried to listen attentively and sympathetically while keeping up with the traffic, I noticed movement along the side of the road. It was hard to see what was there in the mixture of darkness and glare from vehicle headlights. Maybe nothing. Then I detected more movement and saw a large doe running along the shoulder of the road, beside the traffic. She dodged between several cars into the median separating our two lanes from those going in the opposite direction.
The doe was beautiful but alone and panicked. She was bounding from side to side, looking for an opening, lunging back and forth, but finding no escape. Car horns were honking, some at her and others at drivers who were failing to get through the next intersection quickly enough. I didn’t know what to do. How could I help the doe? I knew she was likely to jump into the traffic soon. She most likely would be killed, possibly causing vehicle damage and injuries to drivers. But I was stuck in traffic. If I jumped out of the car to try to help her, she would have been even more alarmed by the presence of a strange human, calling to her and flailing at her. And people would have thought I was nuts. So, I did nothing. After all, it was only one doe among many deer. When the light changed, and the car behind me honked, and my son said, “Mom, go!” I did.
Later, while I was waiting, watching my son’s practice, I grieved for that doe. With no clear path away from the highway, she almost certainly had been killed or critically injured.
I wondered, what had she needed to calm her fears and help her out of danger?
And then I knew. She needed another deer—another being like her—to lead her, to show her the way to safety.
And I understood.
In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
John 1: 1-5
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
John 1: 14
No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
John 1: 18
God is in the manger, and God is with us—all of us, everywhere and always.