For Sunday, December 18, 2016 – Matthew 1:18-25
Don’t you appreciate people who get right to the point without embellishment or meandering down countless trails? When they tell a story, they tell it in the most direct way possible. When they preach, they use fancy language only as seasoning, not substance, avoiding sentences like, “The Lord is like unto a rose red serpent rising,” for more straight up pronouncements: “God shows up as both beauty and danger.” When they pray, they say what they mean instead of softening it in fluffy garments: “Lord, we’re in a real fix here! We can’t see where we’re going. Help!” These are the people who gain our trust because they say what they mean and mean what they say. Even the hard-to-believe becomes believable.
For Matthew, the tax collector turned disciple, telling the remarkable story of the arrival of Jesus is like that, straight up and direct. “Now the birth of Jesus,” he says, “happened like this.” Then he summarizes the greatest of all mysteries in about seven sentences. The entire course of history changed, the path to and with God opened to all, a way for humanity to live into our fullest potential for love and redemption—contained within these few words.
At the center of the story is an ordinary, open-hearted teenage girl; a fiercely faithful young man; and Emmanuel, the meaning of which lasers in with pinpoint precision: “God is with us.” In such simple ways, all things become possible. Anything in the world becomes everything that matters. What might it mean for each of our own personal universes, and the one we tenderly, tenuously share, if we were to commit ourselves to becoming more simple and direct, more humble and ordinary, more fiercely faithful, more “with” one another, and more aware of God with us?
Life still can be that uncomplicated, you know. We can say and do what we intend to say and do. We can settle down in mind and spirit and make room for a more direct experience of God and one another. We can expect God to come quietly, simply, directly to us.