A few months back I started a subscription to The New Yorker. No. I’m not all that hoity-toity and I can’t even do the simple crossword puzzles in the back, but it has some good articles and other items, but the main reason I started getting it was for the short stories. Each issue has a new author. Sometimes the stories are good, sometimes I don’t finish them, but… its nice.
A few months ago there was an interesting story, The Ghost Birds, by Karen Russell. I haven’t heard of her before, but I did enjoy her story. It talked about a father who loved “birdwatching” and had taken his teenage daughter along for the most recent outing. When they returned they shared with the mother—the parents weren’t getting on so well—about the trip. The mother asked the daughter if she enjoyed hearing the birds, because when she had gone, she had not. She said they sounded like barking Chihuahuas. The daughter said that she did in fact enjoy it. So the mother said, “What did you like about it? To me it sounded like, cow-cow-cow.”
Turns out, it wasn’t the birds the daughter enjoyed the most. Instead, she turned to her mom and replied, “I like watching Dad’s face while he listens.”
Perhaps I’m not being true to the Gospel, but on Christmas Eve—last night—I want our regular attenders to hear it, but I really want those who may be visiting to hear a particular message without complicating it. The message: God loves you. If they don’t hear anything else, I want that message to follow them on their way, but there is that other part of the Gospel that can never be separated from the Incarnation, the birth of Christ, and that is the Crucifixion, the death of Christ. What I find so fascinating is that, before the Incarnation, Jesus knew the Father’s will and he knew why he was coming into the world and what was going to happen in the end. And I guess, having had that knowledge, I would want to ask him why? I know it was out of love for us, but… if you asked him, “Why?” he endured so much, how would he respond?
Well, this is putting words in the mouth of Jesus—which is never a good idea—but it feels true to me. I think Jesus would respond by saying something like, “I like watching your face, when you realize how deeply you are loved. I like being there, when on your last day you step into that Heavenly Kingdom and fully understand that the promises of God are real. I like watching you as you stand up straight and tall, all of your earthly burdens finally lifted from you. And I like watching my “Dad’s” face while he listens… while he listens to your voices in praise knowing that his children—you—have come home to him.”
Let us pray:
Father, we are filled with the new light
by the coming of your Word among us.
May the light of faith shine in our words and actions.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever.