Another moment of silence, so quiet, so rich, and then Carol speaks, wonder lacing her voice. “Seeing the figures gathered there, around the baby – it reminds me of the story of the banquet, when people come from east and west and north and south, to gather at the table of the Lord.”
I think of the stained-glass window I saw in Chartes when I was pregnant with Jack, how the baby Jesus lay not in a manger but on a table, an altar. And I think of that word manger. In French, it means “to eat.” This baby is our food, as He will one day declare to His disciples. “My body,” He will say, “my blood. Take and eat. It is for you.”
It is all here, in this story, the whole Gospel.
I wonder, too: who will show us the way to the Christ Child? Who will light our journey? The prophets, yes. Mary and Joseph, yes. The shepherds, yes. The Magi, yes.
But also – Debbie.
And Julie. And Carol. And maybe me, too. And maybe you.
Maybe we can hold hands on this dark road and help each other to see: “Look, there is the light!”
Wrapped in swaddling cloths, my squirming, kicking five-month old makes a ridiculous Baby Jesus. Adorable, yes, but she is all girl with those rosy cheeks and delicate eyelashes. And newborn she is definitely not, as evidenced by her ever-moving, chubby appendages and bright, curious eyes. And who am I to think I could pretend to be the Mother Mary?
The people coming through our little stable do not see my bouncing baby Sylvia. Looking upon my sleeping child, they see Jesus. Because they are looking for Him. They have come this night to escape the bustle and glitter and clamor and noise, to be reminded of What It’s All About. And there in the manger sleeps a perfect little baby, and they don’t see my baby but another Baby who was also God.
The wonder and ridiculousness of it makes me laugh even as I am crying. That God would use a harried, exhausted couple and their too-big baby and a fake manger scene in a modern church garden…It’s almost as ridiculous as God using a real teenage girl and her fiance and a real manger scene on a real night in Bethlehem.