Had we been a day later, we would have found the manger empty and the family departed.
We would have learned that they fled to Egypt,
warned that the baby was endangered,
sought by the establishment of the day
that understood how his very life
threatened the way things are.
We would have paused at the empty stall
and pondered how this baby
from the very beginning was under threat.
The powers understood that his grace threatened all our coercions;
they understood that his truth challenged all our lies; they understood that his power to heal
nullified our many pathologies;
they understood that his power to forgive
vetoed the power of guilt and the drama of debt among us.
From day one they pursued him,
and schemed and conspired
until finally . . . on a gray Friday . . .
they got him!
No wonder the family fled, in order to give him time for his life.
We could still pause at the empty barn–
and ponder that all our babies are under threat, all the
vulnerable who stand at risk
our babies who face the slow erosion of consumerism,
our babies who face the reach of sexual exploitation,
our babies who face the call to war,
placed as we say, “in harm’s way,”
our babies, elsewhere in the world,
who know of cold steel against soft arms
and distended bellies from lack of food;
our babies everywhere who are caught in the fearful display
of ruthless adult power.
We ponder how peculiar this baby at Bethlehem is,summoned to save the world, and yet
we know, how like every child, this one also was at risk.
The manger is empty a day later . . .
the father warned in a dream.
Our world is so at risk, and yet we seek after and wait for
this child named “Emmanuel.”
Come be with us, you who are called “God with us.”