Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Thoughts from the Chaplain: Christmas

The Bible is full of people whose names are not even recorded.  These un-named ones are our reminder that not only does God know our world, He has lived in it. He was involved with ordinary individuals.

Let us look at a two of them. In the school nativity nobody wants to play the innkeeper. They’d rather be a shepherd, or even a sheep.  After all the innkeeper was trying to make a profit out of the Roman census to make up for what the Romans had cost him.  And then came this couple, and it was hard for even him to turn them away, tired, bedraggled, and anxious as they were, a young woman, far from her home and pregnant. How could you? So you took this couple to the safest, most secure place you had… the stable where you kept the animals.  You could now sleep peacefully knowing that your pockets were full, your Inn was crowded, and you had not turned away a young family in distress. However, during the night a star appears and before you know it the stable is full of shepherds and angels and wise men.

Amazing how time and situation make some people so very important? Here is a character we will never forget; he was the one who assured us that Jesus would be born in a stable and make His first bed in a feed box.  Luckily he did this because how would anyone like to be known through history as the one who said, “There’s no room for the Messiah here!”
Another person in this wonderful story of grace is simply known as an angel.

God did not send an archangel to say that His son was to be born in Bethlehem; no it was just an ordinary angel that did the talking. Of course it doesn’t take a much for a group of shepherds to get excited. So maybe sending in an archangel might have pushed them over the edge. I think the reason God would pick an average, ordinary angel to deliver such startling news is easy to understand; so many of us are like those shepherds even on our best days, we’re not much more than average ordinary folks.

So, please, let us hear the message of these unnamed yet widely known characters whether they are an innkeeper, an angel, a shepherd or later one of the wise men. After all, this entire whole story about mangers, shepherds, and wise men is not so much about people who lived long ago and far away. No, these are stories about you and me, and a struggle to find a life that’s real, meaningful, and gives us a glimpse of the glory that’s waiting for us around the next bend in our journey to Jesus. So let us not be the one to say “sorry I have no room or time for you Jesus”, let us accept the word from an ordinary angel, and let us be like the shepherds and hurry to kneel at the manger which is the bed of Our Lord.

Fr Michael Manning, O.Carm.

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