The ever-faithful morning sun’s light began to brighten the eastern horizon, radiating its light of new life. What had been a chaotic, event-filled night of pain, fear, blood, water, birth, life, worship, tears and unspeakable joy, was cresting into a new dawn.
The sounds of normality began to break through the brisk morning’s, fog-filled air. The men and women of the market, preparing their carts and baskets of goods to be bartered and sold, the rumble and rattle of their movements could be heard for miles. The Roman legions beginning their daily processes of ensuring law and order, the clinking’s and clattering’s of their armor, swords, and shields making ready resonates. The prayers of the local Synagogue’s most zealous calling-out before the full exposing of this dark, cold, barbaric world to a new morning’s illumined beginning, announce its arrival.
This was nothing new and yet, unbeknownst to the world, everything had changed.
The utterly exhausted Mariam’s eyes had never fully shut. This new mother was on constant high-alert for the infantile call of her new son. The coos and cries for hunger had been her evening’s constant companion, along with those random, intrusive shepherds who had slightly over stayed their welcome. Joseph, had fully collapsed under the stress of the entire situation, spent from his emotional and physical assistance leading up to last night’s climatic conclusion. He laid face-down in a pile of hay, snoring deeply with a trail of uncontrolled drool, dripping from the corner of his mouth.
He jumps up in a state of confused panic, almost as if he had seen yet another vision from his dream sent messenger, his eyes darted around the dimly lit chamber trying to catch-up to his current place of reality… “What the hell just happened?” he thinks to himself in whatever colloquial way ancient Jews would have… His head pounding from dehydration and malnourishment.
“Did all that really just happen?”
Mariam sits quietly, and snickers watching her confused, all-in partner wake from his state of dead awareness into full-on new-dad mode. This was a side of Joseph she had not yet observed and, she kind of likes it. She gently calls to him and as he rubs his eyes, he draws into focus an emergent vision, capturing the sight of his desired love, feeding his newly adopted baby boy tightly against her breast. The warmth of the child pressed against her brought to reality the need for warm water and a good bathing.
Joseph instantly realized, this was going to be, yet another, busy day.
His mind began to swirl with the impending ‘to-do’ list… This was not paycheck-to-paycheck living, this was meal-to-meal, cup-to-cup living. Water, food, a better living situation, preparations for circumcision only seven sunsets away… and a Sabbath in the middle of it all to be ready for.
They needed much and had little.
Joseph began to pack-up what little they had for a full day ahead. Perhaps he could trade some labor for a small meal of olives, sardines, and fresh water? There was a vineyard nearby, maybe the owner needed a set of hands for the day? He did not want to leave his unceremoniously wed bride and humbly birthed son, but did he have a choice? There were needs, and he was the chosen provider.
As the bright sun progressively lit the small world of Bethlehem, the sounds of life became louder and the pressure of timing grew greater. He needed to provide and that meant getting out early to be selected.
He told Mariam he would be back, soon. This was their new reality; days and days of work, travel, struggle, worship and rest lay ahead… a seemingly endless grind of life, without pause. Each morning, waking up unaware of what each new daybreak will have in store for them. Each evening, grateful for another day behind and yet ahead.
Joseph kisses Mary, gently on the forehead and then leans down to the nursing child and lightly kisses his soft matted hair, still smelling of embryonic fluid… and he leaves.
This was the first of many days just like this.
And so, they lived, and loved, and laughed, and grew, and toiled, and went on with each new day as any other normal family would do… Breathing in life, sweating out hope, enduring hardship and embracing it all with their child, Yeshua, the one to be called Immanuel, which means “God with us”.
An unassuming God for sure, unconsciously there in it all… present in the mundane, in the ordinary, in the daily drudgeries of existence… meal-to-meal, cup-to-cup. God with them, growing in wisdom and stature. This the flesh of grace and truth, simply being a child… infusing their young parental worlds with happiness and frustration; first smiles and first poops. God with them, in the everyday.
This, oh so average Middle Eastern new-born, is the meticulous face of what God looks like. He is the exact representation of the Creator of all things. The One who is Love. The One who has saved the world.
So, as you awaken on this day-after Christmas, know that God, right now, is with you.
There are no specific holidays (holy-days) where you’re allowed, with specific conditions met, to be in the presence of this everyday God.
No, last night shows us God has fully invaded your world. Every day forward is now made Holy by his involvement. Every moment available to be fully engaged in the awareness of His’s Spirit; an intimate, unending communion. He is always with you, never forsaking you, inseparable and participating in everything.
Nothing can be irredeemable or irreconcilable with this new Light of Life radiating into your world… Everything is new, and everything has changed.
Today, you’re free to live, and love, and laugh, and grow, and toil, and rest and go on with each and every new day… Breathing in life, sweating out hope, enduring hardship and embracing it all with this child, Jesus…
… the one forever called Immanuel, which means “God with us”.