Expect a Miracle
There’s an angel sitting in our Christmas tree. Perched atop a green bough, she boasts a royal robe of lavender, bespeckled with the night sky. In her tiny outstretched hands, she holds the noble star of Bethlehem. She could be easily lost amidst the grandeur of her neighbors in the tree, including the plump singing snowman or the red and gold glittering elf shoe that hangs nearby. Yet, she holds her own place of reverence in our tree and has for many Christmases. She is an angel, so, of course, her gossamer wings complete her handsomeness but she has only one. We can’t remember a time when both her wings were fully intact. The loveliest aspect of our angel, though, is the message she brings, a message that is central to the theme of this most holy Christmas season. Expect a Miracle. With all her beauty and majesty and broken wings, she still reminds us every year to do just that. Expect a miracle.
This truly is a time for miracles. When we think of miracles, our attention is inevitably drawn to the depths of the miraculous, the rarest of events that fill us with awe and wonder. Then there are the modest miracles, the seemingly unremarkable experiences that feel as sublime as any great marvel, the ones that shift our thinking. We have all been a part of these miracles, big and small. Only recently, in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, I was honoured to witness such a miracle in action as a fellow busy shopper leaned into a young man who appeared to be having a hard day. She gently asked if he wanted to take her place in the growing line. He responded with authentic appreciation. That was a miracle.
The word “miracle” comes from the Greek words "semeion" or sign and “teras” or wonder. The great spiritual writer Marianne Williamson says miracles happen when we shift our thinking from fear to love. These everyday miracles are signposts of wonder as we move through what can seem to be routine days. The same virtue runs through all of these unremarkable events…kindness.
The kindest miracle of all is upon us. Christmas. That time of year has arrived when we celebrate the birth of Jesus in a lowly stable many miles from Branch. I recognize that we live in a time when talking excitedly about celebrating Jesus’ birth as the cornerstone of Christmas seems a bit provocative. Like you, I appreciate and respect the celebration of this season in the many ways that make sense for all faiths. In fact, while celebrating Jesus, I also celebrate dear old Santy, too. Santa Claus embodies a particular holiness in and of himself. Who else, I ask, would travel around the world in one night, graciously giving gifts to the populace and getting only cookies and milk in return? In recent years, he’s started dispatching bands of elves around the globe. Now that’s unconditional love!
For me, the Jesus that anchors the Christmas season welcomes us all, regardless of faith, regardless of color, regardless of whether your mysterious elf is called Jingles or Delores. He is less of a royal king than he is a close friend, human and divine, a maker of miracles himself. The Christmas Jesus, and indeed the everyday fella, is here amongst us, reminding us to love, calling us to compassion, asking us to expect a miracle. He knows that there are days when we, too, are having a bit of trouble with our own wings but he asks us to open our good selves up to the possibilities of miracles in our lives, to pay attention, to stay awake.
So on this Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, one of the longest nights in the history of the Earths existence, the very first day of Winter, take a moment to think about the miracles that the Christmas season and the New Year will bring for you. Starting tomorrow, the darkness will move aside, allowing a little more light to enter each day as the Earth tilts back towards the glorious sun. Expect a miracle. There’s one on the way.