I sense gloom and despondency in the air. Partly it’s directed at our government which seems burnt out & out of control, busy making the mess it’s created worse. Partly it’s despair at the situation in Gaza and Israel, where two sides each with a legitimate cause, their ownership of their land, seem intent in trying to destroy each rather than seeking a peaceful compromise. Partly it’s despair at the continuing situation in the Ukraine. Of course, we feel helpless to do much about any of these, hence the gloom & despondency. ‘Where is God in all this? Why doesn’t He do something about it?’
The Christmas stories of Luke and Matthew are in some ways quite different, but with respect to these two questions they are singing off the same song sheet, and it’s one we know from experience ourselves. In both Christmas stories God is present in our world in quiet hidden ways, amongst ordinary men & women, and very much under the radar. In Luke She comes as a baby born to travelling parents in a hidden place where they seek shelter. Hardly anybody notices. In Matthew He comes at home in Bethlehem and is recognised only by migrant travellers with a belief in astrology. Once the local power brokers become aware of His birth, they seek to have Him killed.
We will remember that during lockdown, which was such a painful time for many, there was an uprising of mutual support & care in many places as ordinary men and women looked after each other in unexpected ways. Much the same seems to have taken place during the blitz in the Second World War. I assume that there is a lot of the same thing continuing to happen in our own country now, and in the Ukraine and in Israel & Palestine. But hardly anybody notices. Luke and Matthew tell us that that is where God is always to be found. It is a feral God who is at work in quiet, loving, hidden creative ways all the time. It’s up to us to notice & name this incarnate God present in our world and hopefully to nurture Him/Her in each of us.
I’m reminded of some words of Walter Wink. “Transfiguration is living by vision: standing foursquare in the midst of a broken, tortured, oppressed, starving, dehumanising reality, yet seeing the invisible, calling to it to come, behaving as if it is on the way, sustained by elements of it that have come already, within and among us. In those moments when people are healed, transformed, freed from addictions, obsessions, destructiveness, self-worship or when groups or communities or-even, rarely, whole nations glimpse the light of the transcendent in their midst, there the New Creation has come upon us. The world for one brief moment is transfigured. The beyond shines in our midst-on the way to the cross.”
First posted in http://contemporaryspirituality.blog/