What happened when Gabriel left? When the prayer and song were through and Mary got up off her knees and went about her day? Do you think her brow furrowed over how to tell her parents? What did they say? Her friends – did they believe her?
When Joseph woke up in a cold sweat from a dream that might as well have been real, what were his first thoughts? Did he sit up the rest of the night going over and over and over it in his mind, assuring himself that it was a message from the God he loved and not just a case of a vivid imagination?
It’s true. It’s true. It’s true?
The wise men took a long time to get there. Contrary to every beautiful nativity scene we put out this season, those three kings didn’t make it until a few years later. Were there some cloudy nights, when the Star dipped out of view? In the darkness, did they wonder, was this the right way after all? Was this even the sign they were looking for? Would they ever find the King they believed in? Was He even real?
When the angels finished their song and all was quiet and still and dark again, I imagine there was a moment of deep silence. Eyes that had been bleary with a desire for sleep just moments before were suddenly big and round, darting from one face to another in a “what just happened” kind of way. Hearts filled to the brim with adrenaline, nearly pumping straight out of their chests.
Then the silence broke.
A rip-roaring shout of “Let’s go” combined with yelps and laughter and the soft echo of staffs thudding quietly to the grass, swallowed in the sound of bare feet pounding the ground in a frenzied run. Scripture tells us they “hurried off,” but I like to turn that up a notch and imagine them in an all out sprint. Following the light of the star and an innate sense in their own hearts that led them, full speed, through the city, around every corner, until they arrived at the doorway of the little cave.
They stopped on a dime.
Breathless, they lean in and ask through deep intakes of oxygen, “Where…is…He?” Joseph steps aside so they can see Him.
And suddenly they are in the climactic scene of the story they have been hearing about their whole lives. Something that was supposed to happen in an ambiguous Someday far from now to the Whole Big Picture World suddenly happened today, to them. There He was. The glory of the angels’ serenade in the fields is suddenly eclipsed entirely by the glory of their Messiah, here in flesh and blood before them.
I get choked up about a lot of things around Christmas time. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older. This year, there were times when I couldn’t even open my mouth to sing the words to some of my favorite tunes because I was so moved by the lyrics:
Those are the words I repeat to my own heart, to the voices in my head.
To Fear, I motion for him to come close and look through the crowd of shepherds. “Come and see what God has done,” I say. “He’s made a way for us. There are no more shadows to run from. The light is here.”
To Bitterness and Anger, I ask them to uncurl their fists and reach out to touch the soft newborn skin. “Come, let us adore Him, the bringer of every joy. You cannot give adoration while holding all those hurts. Lay them down.”
To Loneliness, I pull her close to the edge of the manger and watch her lock eyes with this tiny, infinite Savior. “We are no longer lost,” I say softly. “He didn’t forget us; He’s here to save us. Right on time.”
For us, He isn’t just a Savior born in a Someday long ago, far away from the Today we’re living in now. He is the Savior for all days. The Hero of the greatest story ever told. The Creator and Redeemer of our own stories.
Every question we have rattling inside our weary hearts finds their answer in Him.
What would they say?
“…so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:10-11)
Is it true?
“‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’” (Luke 2:29-32)
Was this the right way?
“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life…’” (Jn. 14:5-6)
Where is He?
“He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see…” (Mt. 28:6)