Songs reverberate in my head at this time (I’m sure they do for all of us), and they speak to the special seasons of waiting and fulfillment that are Advent and Christmas.
One song is very old—“Crucifixion,” by Phil Ochs (if you can remember the song, or even him, you’re really old!). Here is the first stanza:
In the green fields a-turning, a baby is born
His cries crease the wind and mingle with the morn
An assault upon the order, a changing of the guard
Chosen for a challenge that is hopelessly hard
And the only single sign is the sighing of the stars
But to the silence of distance they are sworn.
I will ask a question or two and leave it to you to think of the answers—What was the challenge? Why was it (or is it) “hopeless”? What is the “order” upon which His presence was an “assault,” and should we join or resist that assault? Why was the Baby crying?
Another song in my head is “Mary, Did You Know.” Without rehearsing the lyrics (most of us are familiar enough with them), again I would ask a few questions for us to ponder—Mary, how much did you know, and how much did you not know? If you knew your Son was destined to be a Savior, did you know it would be by means of the cross? What did you know of Him when He was 12 and lost/found in the Temple? Did His response to you seem disrespectful? Yet “they came down to Nazareth, and He was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51). Was this episode a premonition for you, or was it just an awkward family moment?
The last song in my head is actually an anticipation of Epiphany: “We Three Kings.” Gold, frankincense, myrrh—we know the drill, and we know the joke that if there had been three wise women they’d have brought diapers, Enfamil, and baby powder! But what did you expect, Mary (and Joseph?) when they arrived? What kinds of gifts would have been helpful for you? What did you make of the gifts brought (and their possible symbolism), knowing you never heard the carol that offers an explanation: born a king, a deity nigh, a life of gathering gloom… What could you (or Joseph) have thought or known?
These are some random thoughts that might be worth a bit of reflection as we celebrate the end of the season of consumerism and enter the life of our Redeemer. Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to all!