by Christine Sine
One of my early Christmas gifts this year was a cut out paper light given to me by good friends who visited Israel and Palestine a couple of months ago. The light was crafted by a disabled Palestinian man in Bethlehem who is trying to support his large family on a very meager income. I have been lighting it each morning as a reminder to pray for those who are marginalized and abandoned in our world.
As I look at it today I am reminded once again of how Jesus usually appeared to those at the margins and was both welcomed by and welcoming to the disabled, the abused and the excluded. Even at his birth, it is the disabled, the despised, the abandoned and the excluded who are both welcoming and welcomed. It is in them that the Christ light seems to shine most brightly.
Once again my thoughts go to Kenneth Bailey and his assertion that Jesus was not born in a stable but in a family home. I have mentioned this on several occasions but love to remind myself of this and the
It was to this simple village home that the shepherds and wise men alike came. Shepherds despised and regarded as unclean by their society, are visited by angels and invited to join the great home coming celebration that marks the coming of the child who will become the Messiah. That they were welcomed and not turned away from this home is remarkable. This is good news indeed for the outcast and the despised.
Then the wise men come, according to Bailey, rich men on camels, probably from Arabia. And they come not to the city of Jerusalem where the Jews thought God’s glory would shine, but to the child born in a manager around whom there is already a great light. That these foreigners were welcomed is also remarkable and good news for people of all nations who long for a place to call home. (adapted from Was Jesus Born in a Stable and Why Does It Matter)
The kind of change heralded by the angels and welcomed by the shepherds and the wise men, rarely comes through the centers of power. It usually comes at the margins and that I think is the greatest hope and promise that we all have to look forward to as we welcome the Christ child at Christmas.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
Sing with the angels,
Dance with the shepherds,
Worship with the wise men.
A miracle surges around us.
Light shines in the darkness.
A beacon of hope and promise.
It shines on all creation.
Believe in its newness.
Receive it with wonder.
Live into its glory.
The child of Bethlehem has come.
Today I decided to get a little adventurous in my response. I not only wrote the prayer above but I also felt I needed to make my own cut out paper light and chose a star as my pattern- being very aware that the light of Christ shines in us and draws all the disabled, the abandoned, the excluded and despised to himself. So I watched the video tutorial below and made a star. I didn’t have the right kind of paper or backing so I had to improvise a bit – backing my star with tissue paper and then taping it to a sheet of glass in front of an electric candle. It wasn’t perfect but it was a wonderful focus for my reflections and a great reminder of the kind of God that we follow.