December 25, 2016

When God Interrupts

On this Christmas Day, or Christmas week, take some time to consider the ways in which the roads and dance of Creation Spirituality were visible in the interaction of the Shepherds and Angels of the Christmas saga. 
The Gospel of Luke says, “In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Luke 2:8-20)
I would suggest that the Via Positiva was part of the Shepherds daily lives. Living in the fields, watching their sheep and tending to them in order to make a living was simply 'life'. Like us, the Shepherds had a job to do. Like us, most of the time it can seem pretty hum-drum and even repetitive. Like us, they were not expecting God to interrupt their lives. “Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them…”
It is not surprising that “they were terrified.” (Certainly fear is a manifestation of the separation of the Via Negativa.) Fortunately, the angels did not leave the Shepherds in suspense for long. “The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’
By announcing the Good News of the birth of Messiah, the Angels changed the fear of their appearance into a proclamation of something amazing. I suspect that I would still have been a bit afraid and if not for the witness of the other shepherds, I might have thought I was going a bit crazy.
As it is, “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.” These humble men of the field, who were the first to hear the good news, were also the first to take action and become part of the Via Creativa of God’s work. Instead of huddling in the fields in fear, or dismissing the angels’ visitation as too much to drink, they discussed what they had experienced. In the community of the 'new creation', they experienced solidarity. Then they ‘went in haste and found…the child.’

Not only that, when they had seen that there was a baby truly born in a manger, “they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them…The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” The shepherds were the first to spread the news of Messiah. They were the first to announce the birth of the total Via Transformativa. They were not afraid to tell the story.
Stop and Think: Put yourself in the shepherds’ story. Hear the angels’ announcement and song. Pause to think about the conversation after the angels departed. Imagine the joy at finding the Child.
Let us go, like the Shepherds, to tell others of the real meaning of Christmas. Let those in darkness and fear know that the Light of the Via Transformativa of justice and reconciliation is here!

No comments:

Post a Comment