“When the world was dark and the city was quiet, you came. You crept in beside us. And no one knew.” (The Iona Community)
I love the way that this poem sets the scene for Christmas. When the world was dark and the city was quiet, God came.
Christmas is a season that often gets wrapped up in frenzy and bustle, in attending performances and parties, in “showing up” for activities until we are exhausted. And yet, when the world was dark and the city was quiet, God came.
I remember, one Christmas, when I was living away from home, all of that bustle was absent from Christmas. It was quieter and darker, in a way. The checklist that year was decidedly less packed. The calendar less frenzied. And yet, in that year, I noticed Christmas in a new way. In the quiet, in the calm, I noticed those moments when God quietly crept into the unexpected places, the forgotten corners of our holiday world. The church doors opening to neighborhood kids looking for a place to play outside the cold. Food being shared. Laughter being shared. Small acts of kindness being given without exaggeration or expectation. Love being born, subtly, quietly, while everyone else was caught up in the busyness.
When the world was dark and the city was quiet, God crept in beside us.
Christmas is a season so special we almost take it for granted. We make it so big that we fail to really see it. So huge that we fail to remember just how very simple it was: a family of little means having a child in the night. A mother of humble strength bringing a baby into the world. A God of unshakable love keeping covenant through flesh and blood, when the world was dark and the city was quiet and, if you were too busy, you just might have missed it.
Will you do the same this year, God? When our world feels burdened and our hearts seem cynical and our eyes too busy to focus on the moment. Will God find us?
At Christmas, we encounter this incredible truth: that God meets the pain of this world in flesh and in blood where we least expect it: in the dark, in the quiet; alongside the suffering and among the forgotten ones. Into those places, Christ is born.
And at Christmas, we are invited to meet God there. To find Christ there: born with love into the quiet corners of this hurting world. This Christmas, let us make space to pay attention, to notice, and to meet God-with-us in our weary world.