I am most often drawn by the humble settings and “low” people required for this story of glory, hope and salvation.
An animal’s stall in a crowded small town. Weary travelers. A very young woman on the verge of giving birth. A feeding trough for a cradle. Animals as first witnesses. No bathroom. No kitchen. No beds. Just the barest of space.
An then the glory breaks out. An angel appears to shepherds in a nearby field. Shepherds were the known ne’er-do-wells, not-to-be-trusteds, hands-for-hire, pick-up-laborers, undocumenteds, of the day. And the angel who announces that a child has been born in a nearby feeding stall, a child that is to be the Savior, the Christ, is suddenly joined by an entire army of angels singing praises to God. The shepherds are to go and be the second set of witnesses.
The most important work happens in humble, lowly circumstances. It may never get press. It may never be reported on FOX or CNN. Or win awards. Or elections. The enduring stuff commemorated and celebrated in this day which has been told in multiple ways through time and temples of all kinds is this: Whatever-Is-Divine expresses itself in everyday, common, simple stuff. If ever there were a Universalist message from heaven, it is this. A teenage girl, shepherds, animals, a feeding stall, a manger. EVERYONE is included in this salvation thing. (So, let’s be careful about who we tend to ignore, reject or rationalize out of our little worlds. They just might be God’s son, the Mother of God, and his first Evangelists!)
So, when we stumble into our kitchens today to do whatever we do–turning simple stuff into nourishment for ourselves and others–we can understand how we join the chorus:
Gloria in excelsis Deo
et in terra Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Glory to God in the highest
and on Earth, Peace to people of good will.