Amidst the manger

For a time of the year which focuses on peace and sings of silent nights, Christmas is terribly noisy. The shuffling of bodies, squabbling of shoppers, the chants and chimes and bells of songs and music. And it’s starting to get to me. But the first Christmas wasn’t very silent or peaceful or calm.

We have this idealized nonsense of an idea that the birth of Jesus was surrounded by nothing more than the awe of angels and wise men. I may not be a farmer, but I can put money that being surrounded by a barn full of animals was more than a little cacophonous, which ones we are unsure of but why have a barn if you have no animals? In any case, the manger was surrounded by noise. The clamor of wise men and shepherds would have added to the commotion.

It wasn’t just background noise though. Joseph and Mary weren’t in a barn for the accoutrements: Herod sought to kill this promised child, this king who threatened the crown. The manger was a sanctuary.

Perhaps, it is in this that I struggle with the noise surrounding me. Jesus was surrounded by praise, by rightful worship and glory. Surely, even the animals were in awe that God should call a manger His bed for even a moment, a mound of flesh His body. I am surrounded by the clamor and ruckus of a world that is at best tepid to my existence, if not an ocean of apathy with waves that plummet upon my back with a dispassionate lethargy.

To be seen with eyes of love, even to be seen with eyes of hate, is better than not being seen at all. Then, who I am that I am worthy of being seen? What have I done that matters at all? Should I or anyone else find value in my life by mere virtue of it being?

I am no one. I am nothing. But Jesus was, is, will always be everything.

The world does not care about me as I care about it. The people I love do not love me the way I love them. But Jesus loves me in such a way. Even when I did not care about Him, He cared about me; even when I did not love Him, He loved me. Perhaps in time, the world and the people will change, but it means nothing to me. I don’t need it, don’t need them. I have walked alone so often in life, free of others, but never of God. He is the sole thing that I need.

While I may want those that I love to love me back, I don’t need them. I want them, a select few more than others, in my life, and from me that is more than a compliment but a spark of my heart that I rarely share. What greater compliment can be said of someone that we do not need them to continue, but would not want to continue without them?

Jesus, though… I need and want. My life is ended the moment that is not true. And so I find myself with those wise men, those shepherds, those beasts, worshiping as an embodiment of all three. I look not to each of my fellow men and beasts for love, but at the manger, not for the love of mere mortals but the Immortal One. Together or alone, it matters very little for I never lived for those around me, but only Him in front of me. In silence or shout, let me look to Him. Whether I am loved or hated by all the world, I still have the world whole if He loves me, and of that I shall never doubt but marvel at times how perfection might find love of imperfection.

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