Tuesday, January 4, 2011



At the beginning of December I purchased a devotional book, Watch for the Light. I wanted to spend the entire month reflecting on the wonder that is the Incarnation. But I didn't. I let the moments slip away. And that treasure trove of life words sat on the coffee table, unopened.

Yesterday, when the earth's orbit was closest to the sun, but because we are tilted away it was bitterly cold, I picked up the book and read.

I had been tilted away from the Son as well.

It was a sermon, no, a conversation recorded 30 years ago by a Catholic priest in a small Nicaraguan town. The dialogue goes back and forth between the words of the Bible and the words of the individuals who make up the small congregation. I have always dismissed the story of the Wise Men's journey as an aside, an unimportant appendage to the story of the Babe in the manger. I should have known better.  I should have known. 

There are no unimportant words in the Bible.

"in the days of Herod the king. . .
came wise men from the East"

"He was born into tyranny."
I was born into tyranny, too; tyranny of the urgent, tyranny of my selfish appetites, tyranny of my fears. I understand tyranny all too well, bound in bad habits I am incapable of changing. But I am in denial of it all.

"When Herod the king heard this, he was very troubled"

"He came to liberate", to cast off the chains of tyranny. My chains bind just as surely as the chains of evil government or poverty or ignorance or disease.

"Afterwards, being warned in a dream that they should not 
return to where Herod was, they returned to their country
by another way." 

"He submitted to persecution."
And so do all who join His cause. All powers that be live in fear; the fear of losing control. They grasp. They persecute. They use any means necessary to preserve their power. And they hate the liberator and all who dare align themselves with him.

In the midst of the reading, my comfortable home was transformed into that bare space where the conversation took place. And the bare space where He was born. I was transformed into one of "them".

He became one of them, and I see myself in what He became. I am one of them as well. Our tyrants and chains bear different names, but they beat us down and bind us up with equal power.

And the Babe came to free us all.

This day that we are closest to the Son, yet tilted away.

He came-- to free us all!