Life is so full of mystery. There is so much more to every thing than meets the eye! Layers upon layers of meaning lie wrapped around hidden truths that take a lifetime to unwrap. Always there are new discoveries, new information, and the things we thought we understood to day, make no sense tomorrow. And yet, we try so hard to make sense of it all! Always digging around, rooting at things, working hard to uncover the secrets of life.
Counselors use the example of an onion. When you have a problem, you peel away the layers, one by one, until you get to the core of the issue that lies within, so you can heal. It takes patience and hard work. There are no shortcuts. You can’t just pick up a knife and chop at it to figure things out. Everything depends on your efforts. And, the nearer you get to the center, the more tears you shed. That model works well for things of the emotions. But, when it comes to the spiritual, I prefer to use the example of a rose.
A rose, like an onion, has many layers. But, unlike the onion, you can’t peel away at it. There is nothing we need do or can do with a rose, but allow it to unfold as it will. How it reveals itself is a mystery. You can’t hurry the process, or you end up ruining it. Everything depends on the rose itself. And the lovely bloom you enjoy in the end comes to you as a gift – not something you have sweated over or cried over.
So, too, is the mystery surrounding this season we call Christmas. Here, in the coolness of winter, at the darkest time of year, a rose is blooming. Layers upon layers of meaning lie hidden in the ancient story of Jesus’ birth. How God took human form, came down as a vulnerable baby, lived among us, died, and lived again, simply for the love of us. Every time we hear it, we shake our heads in wonder. For always, embedded in the old story, is new information, new discoveries, and what we thought we understood yesterday makes no sense today. We find ourselves wrapped in mystery, wide-eyed and whispering like Mary, his mother, “How can this be?”
There is nothing we need do or can do with this Holy Mystery called God, but sit quietly and allow the mystery to unfold as it will. God reveals God’s self to us, a little more each year. We can’t hurry God along. If we try, we end up ruining it. Christmas, for those who believe, is a time when we sit, empty hands uplifted, waiting to receive anew the most perfect gift – the most lovely bloom – the one perfect rose that is God’s great love gift to us all – Jesus Christ, our Lord. How different this is from how the world celebrates Christmas!
Come in from the cold. Come into the church. Come into the place where you can retreat from the hectic schedules, impossibly long lists of things to do, the urgent appeals to “Buy! Buy! Buy!” Spend this Christmas in joyful appreciation of the Holy Mystery. Come watch God’s everlasting love for you unfold.
God’s blessings on you and your loved ones, this Christmas and always,
Pastor Barb <><
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us.
Authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.