When I read the two, almost mutually exclusive accounts of Christmas Eve and day, in Luke 2 and Matthew 2, it seems to me I see a widening circle of care, justice and hope. It is interesting to me that for millennia, we have combined the two accounts in our Christmas crèches – but they are two different perspectives on the same story, with different facts and features. But, all with this message of a widening circle of interconnection.
The story starts with just two, Mary and Joseph, with the intrusion of the Holy Spirit. On Christmas Eve the circle begins to widen, including a conflicted innkeeper, who does not want to slam the door shut on a needy couple, weary and pregnant. . . Who offers them the best he can. And, we assume, they were kept company by God’s creatures at the manger, or so we sing in many carols!
The circle then widens even more, with angels and shepherds out in the fields, on the edge of town, and on the edge of acceptability. Shepherds were the lowest of the low, poor, nomadic, not the ones invited to the nicest dinner parties. Their unbridled enthusiasm and heart-felt obedience in rushing to the manger with joy, contains many messages about who it is that really hears the call of God. And, angels were not necessarily the child-like cute images we may see depicted on Christmas cards – but often fearsome, wild and intimidating – why else would they have to say, “Fear not!”
And, in the broadest possible widening of the story, it is a new star that guides the visitors from the East, a Cosmic sign and companion on their journey.
The story connects a vulnerable, young couple, in an oppressed country; a small business owner trying to be kind, exotic, pagan foreigners, God’s creatures and stars. . . and a vulnerable baby at the center of it whose birth would enrage Herod. That baby would take decades to unravel the mystery of that time and place, and his own destiny as the Christ.
To live in our world today is to live in an ever-widening web of connection. When people in The Philippines suffer a typhoon or earthquake, the whole world knows, and many respond. Filipinos live all over the world these days, as we become more and more interconnected, beyond the boundaries of country, race, class, economics and faith. . . when disaster strikes in the Philippines, we are all Filipinos for at least that moment, flying to a new manger for a word of encouragement and hope.
MCC of Quezon City, and MCC’s in the Philippines, you widen our MCC circle, as you call us to solidarity, to justice, to action. We are in awe of your faith, perseverance and compassion. We vow to become a reliable part of your widening circle. Thank you for calling us to justice and compassion. Thank you for teaching us what it means to share the message and ministry of MCC in The Philippines, and in Asia, and beyond. You are amazing!
May we together follow the star that unites us, even in our differences, that leads us to Jesus’ way of being God in our world. God bless you all as you strive to “Be MCC” right where you are, today.
Written by Rev. Nancy Wilson, Moderator,
Metropolitan Community Churches