This telling of the Christmas Story comes at just the right moment. When we need to see God present in an unprecedented time, in less than ideal circumstances, but still made known to those who want to see him.
This passage starts with “A decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world be enrolled” which starts Mary and Joseph on a journey… This year, “the whole world was enrolled” not in a census but in a global pandemic where nothing is as expected and our lives have had to adjust in unforeseen ways.
And this journey may have been difficult for you….perhaps, with jobs, family members, canceled vacations or rescheduled celebrations ...even simple things made difficult, like masked trips to the grocery store. We were signed up together, the whole word, whether we liked it or not.
Through it all we have gone about our days, making changes when needed... Adapting to circumstances as they come, much like Mary and Joseph.
But, this Christmas poses a unique challenge. At this most joyous time of the year, where is Christ present to us?
This passage calls us to pay attention to God in our midst, even in the less than ideal moments. In this Gospel found in Luke, the story of the incarnation is told quickly. The passage says:
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger
That’s it. A few short lines for the birth of Christ. An epic moment that goes by so quickly it could have been missed.
But in that moment, Christ is born.
Our savior arrives tucked away in manger, not an extravagant birth fit for a king, but a simple birth in a stable. A Miraculous moment hidden in the ordinary. Missed by so many…
But, away in the field something else unexpected was happening.
Shepherds going about their work on a seemingly average night had an amazing visitor, an angel appeared proclaiming to them good news of great joy. That Christ was born!
In that moment, the glory of the Lord showed around them… and they were joined by a multitude of heavenly hosts that joined in singing about the beauty that has just entered the world.
This moment awakens the shepherds to the miraculous happening in a seemingly average night. The sacred hidden in the ordinary. It opened their eyes and it called them to attention that the glory of God was there and they may overlook it, but that should not go unnoticed.
It points them to God right in their midst.
This Christmas may need to be a simpler time than ones in the past, but it is filled with joy and hope, still. We may not have the extravagant gifts, or packed family rooms, or even the ease of being together with the ones we love in the way we were before. But, when less is given, we find that the smallest moments are truly the most valuable.
A Christmas where we are grateful for the little blessings, like a stable with a manager to stay for the night.
But, in these seemingly simple moments, let us not miss the miraculous in our midst. The small moment when the GLORY OF GOD is around us and we are awakened to the miraculous hidden in the ordinary. A moment filled with deep peace and great joy.
That even in these mundane moments God can be birthing something Good in our lives. Those around us may not notice it, but we don’t want to miss.
….And we too may have angels in our home, in our work, or in our community that call us to attention. For me, it's my nieces tugging in my shirt calling me to play a game of Charades. People who point us to the glory of God already with us. Moments that should not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Short and seemingly simply epic moments in our lives.
It reveals to us Emmanuel “God is with us.” Always even in moments when we can fail to notice just how near he is….
What is that moment for you today? That monumental moment that goes by so quickly that it could be missed. It could be baking cookies with a niece or nephew, spending time on a digital call with a family member or friend from afar, or even the joy of a simple moment of rest in a whirlwind of a year.
Take a moment to be aware of the moments in your life when it comes and don’t miss it! The moment when the Glory of God shows around you and you need to pay attention to Christ present so that you can truly rejoice in him.
In this moment, the extraordinary is hidden in the ordinary. It allows us to see the great joy of God because Christ is present with us. In a year when we need it most. He brings good news of Great joy that will be for all people. Of Emmanuel, a God with us who will never leave. A Christ that came to save us all.
Kayla is from New Orleans, Louisiana, a Catholic city filled with priests, po-boys, and parades! A love of God brought this southern girl to the Midwest where she spent her first three years in South Bend as the Assistant Director of Evangelization in Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry department. It is through her work in Campus Ministry that she dove into the Holy Cross mission and found a passion for serving the students of Notre Dame. Kayla serves the Notre Dame community as the rector of Lyons Hall, an all women’s hall that is also one of the historic halls of Notre Dame.
Kayla received her bachelors from Loyola University of New Orleans followed by two years of service work with Americorps, as a City Year corps member and an in-house academic success coordinator at Boys Hope Girls Hope. She then worked in Loyola’s Mission and Ministry department as their graduate student intern while working toward her masters in pastoral counseling from Loyola University’s Institute of Ministry. Serving others is core part of her life, and she spent a large part of the past 12 years of her life volunteering her summers at Camp Challenge, a camp for children with cancer and sickle cell, and Camp Pelican, a camp for children with asthma and cystic fibrosis as the director of activities. Her love of service continues as a mentor to youth at Transformation Ministries in South Bend, Indiana. Kayla is now pursuing a doctorate in preaching as a way to serve God by giving her voice to the church. She also plans to use her education to lift-up and empower marginalized voices of those often overlooked in the universal church and in our world. She dreams of a Church truly alive with Christ, and she believes her vocation is working toward making that Church a daily reality!
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