The last image of the year is one my husband shot out our tiny cabin window. The garage light was on, and all was still on the darkest night of the year in the Northland where my grandparents settled long ago. The frigid air, the wild vunerability of this backwater place and the mystery of light penetrating, so surgically into enveloping darkness was what moved us both with this digital glimpse. This is only a token, an illustration, of a sublime reality. I’m thinking of a baby born on another dark night, in another backwater place, where light burst forth into their precarious situation. John’s gospel says at the beginning “light shines (present tense) into the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:5
How utterly strange, and beyond the ways we would stage it. God comes to rescue: through a humble couple willing to listen to Him, midst political chaos swirling beyond their control, with a baby of suspicious origin who is entirely vulnerable! And that is just the beginning of the story.
I’m reminded of the words of the 1st century thinker, Paul of Tarsus. His reflections were preached into my own ears by a master theologian in the early 1970’s. The passage being explored was the very 1st chapter of Corinthians, where Paul is contrasting what many seek vs. what God has simply given as greatest wisdom. I was deeply moved by the surprising ‘rightness’ of God’s way vs. all our own proud attempts. Paul ends his discussion with this summary: “…because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger then men.” (1 Cor. 1:25).
I used to wonder: if God wants our attention, why does He not make it more obvious? I was new to understanding Him then, and troubled that His existence was not as clear to my friends as it was bursting into my own heart so astoundingly. Here is how another writer expresses this mystery “Everyone supposed that You were limited, You Who cannot be contained by anything, all speech is not able to tell of You, and a mind that is compelled tries to grasp with yearning…”
This last quote excerpted from an Eastern Orthodox liturgy posted on Dec. 26th, 2017