plodding along

Yes, Christmas is a celebration of a wonderful birth, no less than a virgin birth, miraculous from our perspective, an instance where heaven touched earth resulting in this case in something quite earthly, yet also quite heavenly: the God-Human, Jesus. As much God as he is human, as much human as he is God. Indeed a mystery. And surrounding the birth are angelic visitations, dreams, and months down the road a visit by Magi guided by a star in ways we can’t understand in reading the narrative.

But much of the time was occupied with a certain plodding along. Ordinary life with all of its normal challenges, along with the new ones coming from the unusual, actually once for all circumstances. This is much like our life in Jesus in the here and now. Yes, God is at work with all that can accompany that. But by and large all looks and feels normal, in fact there is often a struggle along the lines of weakened humanity, as well as the ongoing spiritual warfare against our defeated foe, Satan.

Often in my life I use to idealize some existence through which I’d be able to take off like an eagle, in high spiritual flight. This is not to say that there are not times when we seem to be mounting with wings like eagles, running and not being weary, walking and not fainting. But by and large, even in so doing, we follow what would seem to be an ordinary course of life, even in the extraordinary way of Jesus.

In the gospels we’re told that Jesus does grow and increase in wisdom and in favor with God and man. But we’re told of no miracles, or anything extraordinary. Nearly the first thirty years of Jesus’ life he is known as a carpenter (or, stone worker- whatever that term actually meant). When he does speak at the synagogue after his anointing by God following his baptism by John, the people of his hometown are taken back. While they may have been used to his sharing from the scrolls in the synagogue, nothing could prepare them apart from God’s revelation for Jesus’ words applying the promises of God in Isaiah to himself.

Even in Jesus’ extraordinary ministry there is a kind of ongoing plodding along. In the ordinary stream of life in the extraordinary kingdom working of God in him. Not something that can be scripted, or planned out in advance. But a fresh, every day, every moment dependence on God, and interdependence on others in the way of Jesus.

So Christmas is about the extraordinary within the ordinary, God become human, the Word made flesh. And that continuing on in his Body for the world.