For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
~ Isaiah 9:6
This morning I awoke early, thinking about the candlelight service we had at church last night, and those who came to worship. There is something about the moment that all the lights are turned off and all that remains is the light from the candles, being held by those present, their faces reflecting the light, and knowing that just for a moment the world seems to be far away.
Among those who came last night was a woman I had never met before. She was escorted into the building with the help of those who brought her. It was obvious that she was blind as she was directed to "take two more steps and then you will be at the front door. There is a small threshold, but you are here."
I found myself thinking of what the church would look like as people held their candles. I thought of the first time I witnessed Christmas Eve as a new pastor, suddenly realizing that I had the "best seat in the house." But on this night, I began to think of the one in the crowd that would be present, and how her view would be different.
During our time of communion, just prior to the lighting of the candles, all those present came forward to receive the Eucharist. It's our tradition that once everyone who has been served has come forward, we then go to those who could not come forward. This person was among those present who would need to be served where she sat. As her friend helped to take the bread, representing the body of the broken Christ, and dipping it into the cup, the reminder of the blood that Christ would shed for us, she then took it into her hands and received communion.
As I watched I was suddenly taken to another place. An intimate Christmas encounter. I was standing before Jesus, the infant child, who came into the world for small, intimate moments like these. I was overwhelmed. For just a moment I could not move, as I watched, realizing that everyone surrounding this moment would probably not realize the infant Jesus among us in the way that I was now encountering him.
I have often wondered just how many people of Bethlehem knew of the child that was born among them? How they went about their daily lives, while God's son was taking his first breath, experiencing God's creation completely, feeling hunger for the first time, being held by the hands that God had fashioned from clay, a soft kiss on the cheek and to hear the words, "It will be okay. I love you." To be wrapped tightly in a blanket, then being laid down with his mother next to him, while Joseph kept watch.
This morning I am reminded that Jesus continues to find ways to reach into the places where we do not expect him. Even for one who was blind, Jesus made his way into her hands, where she could then take, taste, and take in his presence.
I was reminded of the words, "I was blind, but now I see," and it has became the hymn of my heart this Christmas.
While we look for Christ in the candle, in the light of the Christmas tree, and even perhaps, in the songs that we sing... Jesus dwells within and he is simply waiting to be known.
Merry Christmas and Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.