I survived New Year's Eve.
Yes, "survived" is the appropriate verb. As my closest friends know, I am not a fan of December 31st. As holidays go....it seems to be a bunch of hype about not a whole lot and an excuse to get plastered and behave badly. Bah humbug? You betcha!!
Now we're approaching a holiday that I do enjoy: King's Day! The Ephinany! The arrival of the magi at the manger with all their gold, frankincense and myrrh and recognition that there is one greater than any treasure they can bestow upon him. And then, in a moment of Godly-intervention, the three kings...who in Matthew's gospel encountered an insecure and ultimately evil-intentioned Herod...thought better of going back along the same route they had taken to Bethlehem...and instead set their camel-driven GPS to a different path home.
Funny that this gospel reading is one of three for tomorrow in the Episcopal Church. The other two are just as much fun: another Matthew account of Joseph and his dream...in which God uses those moments of slumber when the mind is at rest to let this human daddy know "It's time to get a move on, son!" And Joseph packs up his family and moves them out of harm's way...ultimately ending up in Nazareth, which as I've noted before, seems to be the "Newark" of the Middle East.
Another alternate reading is from Luke, where Jesus, the young boy, scares the wits out of his parents by staying behind in the temple in Jerusalem, asking questions and amazing the elders with his knowledge. Mary chews him out for having caused her and Joseph so much anxiety as they searched for him. And Jesus, the twelve year-old, dishes it back to her in the way a pre-teen might....letting her know he was supposed to be in his "father's house". And, like with so many of the readings from this chapter in Luke, you get the sense that Mary, amidst her motherly-righteous anger, is thinking, "Holy Goats and Sheep! My child is as special as they say!"
Ultimately, all three readings lead to one place: we're embarking on one amazing journey full of joy...adventure...espionage....and lots and lots of dream wisdom. And it makes all that time of Advent with the waiting, waiting, waiting...preparing the way....waiting....all worth it! Now that God, as Jesus, is in the world, humanity is about to have all assumptions and preconceived ideas about "how we always do this" put to the test in ways that make some very uncomfortable, and others left totally dumbfounded. And still others, so amazed that they chase after this man wherever he goes in hopes of getting something, anything, from this enlightened person.
The question I have in 2009 is...which camp are we in? The uncomfortable? The dumbfounded? The seeking? I know for me I am in all three depending on the day. I may spend more time in one than the others...but I have lived in each reality.
But, no matter where I'm at personally at any given moment, the experience of this journey has been worth the wait of getting to it. To reach the Ephinany of knowing the vast expanse of God's love as real has made the Advent of four weeks (or forty years!) a reason to celebrate.