(First published January 5, 2015) Christmas came late for my family this year. Oh there were celebrations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but under it all was a time of waiting for the impending birth of my grandson. We walked through Christmas with a sense of anticipation and anxiety over pregnancy complications for a daughter and her baby. Then last week, a few days short of New Years, a new grandson arrived. We had both a healthy mom and a healthy baby. Who could ask for more?
I’ve felt somewhat like the magi who come late to Christmas, having followed a star for more months than a pregnancy lasts. On the journey to Bethlehem there are no angels pointing to the child of promise. No late night serenades along the journey or rushing shepherds telling everyone they meet about an incredible message filling the sky. Our magi arrived to find a toddler and his mother in a house. Though they are late, to find the child, they are overwhelmed with joy. According to Matthew this child is one who “Will save his people from their sins, a shepherd who will rule over Israel.” This child will be called “Emmanuel, God with us.” The magi’s celebration begins when others have lost their sense wonder of a night of angelic voices, and the exuberance of shepherds joy. Mary would ponder again the meaning of gifts given and wonder at the magi’s visit.
Too soon there would be a hurried flight to Egypt to protect the child. Rachel’s tears would flow in Bethlehem. Sorrow would rock David’s city. Emmanuel, God with us would carry the burden of those tears. One resurrection morning, this child would be revealed as Christ the Lord and death would lose its power.