Recently, the opening to Luke’s gospel keeps popping into my mind. This is odd, because the words which open Luke’s gospel are rather unassuming. The author says in effect: Many people have tried to tell this story before, and now I will try to tell it again, and hopefully a bit more clearly.
They are mundane words….certainly not the drama of In the Beginning and not at all approaching the beauty of Call me Ishmael. They are just simple words, un-assuming words, plain words. and so I have wondered why do they keep returning to my consciousness?
Perhaps it is because of their simplicity. Perhaps it is because they make no effort at literary genius. Perhaps because they remind me of all the ways that the story that is about to unfold is an ordinary story. An ordinary baby is going to be born, and while the backdrop will change and the characters will shift, the drama remains so much the same through generations. A mother labors. A place is made ready. Loved ones look on. And then everything changes. What wasn’t now is, what was is now different. Creation and re-creation pulse and move, and God is in our midst. The mundane slides right up next to the transcendent and both become holy.
One of my professors used to love to ponder the mundanity of our Christian sacraments: we eat and we bathe everyday, and yet sometimes we choose to do those same things but we choose to make them holy by doing them together. This makes me wonder what would happen if we chose to see that holiness more often? and so, as Christmas 2014 rapidly approaches and I make ready for Christmas eve services and time off with my family, I find myself thinking about the mundanity of the birth of Christ, but also about the other mundane holy things that are happening all around us. I wonder what women are laboring, and what people are breaking bread together. I wonder about who is loving, and who is seeking, and who is worrying, and who is crying, and I want to be more mindful of all of that holy mundanity, because somehow Luke’s opening words remind me that holiness is not trapped in the fantastic. It is not the sparkle that makes any of this worth noticing, it is the noticing that makes it sparkle with holiness.
I wish you all a blessed, mundane and holy Christmas.