It is easy joy to prepare for the birth of a child.
Parents delight in making a place for newborn in a home where family and friends all pitch in to make the birth a happy event and to be sure the child is welcomed into the world in love and safety.
We all want to hold a perfect, sweet human infant.
Time slows down for a moment as we revel in the glory of new life.
Matthew, Luke and John give us this experience for Jesus in their stories of the advent.
Granted, Joseph and Mary had to work harder to find a place for their child to be born.
And yet, we imagine the sweet hay of the manger and the innkeeper’s animals warming the air with their breath.
Oil lamps burn with soft light and out in the night sky, a great blazing star lights the way to a mysterious birth in Bethlehem.
The night is silent. Time slows.
Mark breaks our reverie with John the Baptizer, striding in from his desert wanderings, reeking of sweat, honeycomb, and animal skin, telling all who listen that there is One who will baptize us, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit.
He is a swirling wind, not a quiet night.
Jesus is baptized in the waters of the Jordan River, and the skies split apart as the voice God descends like a dove.
Immediately after, this full grown Jesus goes alone to the desert to confront Satan and is attended by angels.
He returns to our world to work miracles, to sit with sinners and to become the Light of the World.
Action supplants reverie.
I treasure the gentle manger story, it lends beauty to the dormant days of winter.
But our time is short and there is much to be done.