Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Katie Snipes Lancaster

The Nativity
Matthew 2:12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Reflection on the Nativity
The dreamy quality of the Gospel of Matthew is quite fascinating to me. Instead of some bold loud angels-we-have-heard-on-high song-like style proclamation accompanied by the heavenly hosts that the Magi should go home by another route, they are met in that midnight moment by a quieter internal vision: do not go back by way of the questionable king. He had other motives. He wanted word from the Magi for the sake of holding on to his own power, not paying homage. He (as we will see) has the capacity to take things to the extreme, and most certainly overreacts. Herod is no friend in this story, and even in a deep dream-state the Magi know not to trust him.

This season between Christmas and New Year’s Day always has a dream-like quality to it to me, with its year-in-review and preparation for potential resolutions in the year ahead. We stand on the cusp of possibility, all of us poised for renewal, reinvigoration, recommitment to our deepest truest selves. We dream ourselves into the new year. Looking back at the year that we’ve just had allows us to see where the King Herod figures might lurk in our own past, people who may have pointed the way for us, but with unfriendly motives. What alternative route might we take to find our way home in the next year? How might our deepest dreams be life-saving not only for ourselves but for the most vulnerable? How might our own midnight musings be part of the divine’s nudging?

This little passage tucked within Matthew’s nativity helps us to pray after sundown, when the stars light the path and our bodies are prepared for sleep. It prompts us to pay attention to the possibility of God’s presence even in our deepest dreams, for even the wise ones who sought God-incarnate by following yonder star were awakened to a new way in the middle of the night.

Praying the Nativity
O God-with-us,
we stand on the cusp of possibility,
trusting you within our deepest selves.
Renew us.
Reinvigorate us.
Restore us.
Show us the life-saving way.