North Highland United Methodist Church
Friday, February 26, 2021
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors


The Arrival                           by Max Lucado (edited)
The noise and bustle began earlier than usual that morning—as night gave way to dawn, people were already on the streets. Vendors were at the busiest corners. Donkeys brayed, dogs barked, people scurried. It appeared that Augustus’ tax scheme was at least good for business.
At the inn, did anyone mention the arrival of the young couple the night before? Ask about their welfare? Likely they were one of many people turned away that night, and there was nothing novel about the two strangers. And now today was upon them—there was bread to bake, floors to sweep, and chores to do. There was too much to do to imagine that the impossible had occurred.
Yet, were someone to look in the stable, what a peculiar scene they would behold. The stable smells like all stables do—the ground is hard and sprinkled with hay. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the floor.
Off to the side are a couple of shepherds sitting silently on the ground, looking perplexed. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light and a symphony of angels. God is noticed by those who have or take time to be aware.
Near the young mother sits the weary father. The mystery of the event puzzles him, but he doesn’t have the energy to wrestle with the questions. The mother         cannot take her eyes off of her baby. At this point in history, the human who best understands who God is and what God is doing, is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She remembers the words of the angel, “his kingdom will never end.” 
He looks like anything but a king—his face is prunish and red. His cry is helpless, and he is desperately dependent upon her. In wonder, the mother touches the face of the infant-God. This baby had overlooked the universe. The rags keeping him warm are the robes of eternity.  A throne room had been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep pen.
Meanwhile the city hums. The shoppers are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never imagine that he had sent God away. People would laugh if anyone told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. Why would the God of the universe be with the lowly, or the stranger, or the young pregnant girl? They were far too busy and preoccupied to consider the possibility.
Those who missed the arrival of the Messiah that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they were busy, and simply not expecting to encounter God. Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?

December 2018