Thursday, December 24, 2015

Advent XXVI

There is mystery at the manger in Bethlehem.  Oh, not the kind of mystery one might think.  There is one sense in which there is nothing there except mystery.  You know, the mystery that goes with God being at work among folks such as us.  No, this mystery is a bit different.  It is the mystery found in something that happened in the manger after the shepherds arrived.  We have all read it a thousand times.  As we go back and read verses 17 and 18 of the second chapter of Luke, we find these words, "When they (the shepherds) saw this (Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the 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."  What is the mystery?  Actually, who is the mystery is the better question.  Who is "all?" 
What the Word says as it tells us that "all...were amazed"  is that there were some folks there besides Mary and Joseph.  Who was there that night?  Could it have been some people who lived homeless in the manger where the animals stayed?  Or, maybe it was the workers from the inn, or the workers who took care of the animals used by the guests?  Or, did word get out that a baby had been born outside in the manger and some of the guest came out to see what was happening in the manger?  If one woman got word there was a new baby somewhere, it is likely others knew about it as well.  A newborn does have a way of getting women to talking.

The truth is we are not likely to ever know exactly who was present in the manger that night when God was about such an extraordinary thing.  By now we should be accustomed to such a phenomena.  Think about all those times the people of God have gathered for worship.  There are always the familiar faces, but there are also the faces of the unknown folks who have been led to the place where God was going to do something among His people.  Sometimes they come via some unusual circumstances, but still they find themselves leaving knowing that they were present for a divine reason.  God does things in our world.  He does them among His people.  We never know exactly who they are.  They may be a mystery for us, but for God, they are simply a part of His plan. 

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