“‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.'"
Joseph and Mary carried the hope of Israel, God's promised Messiah--the promise that drew Israel together at synagogue, during festivals, and holy days. But this long-awaited promise did not come as a neatly wrapped gift adorned with fancy bows or shimmering, curley ribbons. Rather, as nurtured seed, to common peasants amidst whispered gossip and outright scorn. This promise--born screaming-hot in quiet-cold--lay swaddled in rags atop scratchy hay in feeding trough--Immanuel, God with us.
And angels gathered.
Heavenly host lit darkened skies, filling quiet pastures with jubilant songs, pronouncing God's born promise in lowly Bethlehem to startled, fearful shepherds.
And shepherds gathered.
Shepherds--rough, dirty, cold sheep-keepers--sought this promise and found the babe laying in a scratchy, hay-filled manger under starlit stable. On bent knees they worshiped this Messiah and gave thanks for hope fulfilled.
And kings gathered.
Wise men who studied stars and charts and science and prophets. They followed the Bethlehem star until they, too, found the babe. Gathered on bended knees, they offered gifts and worshiped, giving thanks for prophesy fulfilled.
And we gather, still.
Believers gather 'round the table of Eucharist--remembering and giving thanks. We gather, remembering the promise of Messiah fulfilled in Jesus born, the promise of salvation in Jesus crucified, the promise of life eternal in Jesus resurrected, and the promise of God's new order, his Kingdom come, in Jesus ascended. And we give thanks for what God set in motion, through Jesus and for what is yet to come--the Second Advent.
"Then Job replied to the Lord, 'I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.'" Job 42:1-2