Friday, December 14, 2012

The Journey 348

Read: Luke 2: 8-20
         The advent season and its celebrations are made alive by different form of symbols that we use. Though some symbols are only pieces of decorations, images like the manger or the crib throws in light and perspective of the times of Jesus birth. Thus certain symbols or objects help to give meaning or expression to our life and faith. It is through symbols that we put action and emotions to our words. In the aftermath of 9/11, when the World Trade Centre was attacked, a cross shaped steel was discovered from the rubble and this became a famous Ground Zero symbol. But then the public erection of this cross shaped steel was challenged by groups who did not subscribe to any religion. But the mangled steel in the form of a cross became a symbol of people’s resilience and tenacity at a time of grave crisis. In the same way another symbol in the New Jersey is becoming a ray of hope for people around. Wayne Parry reports in Associated Press about a Christmas Tree that is uniting people in their fight to overcome crisis and challenges in life in the aftermath of super storm Sandy. The storm created lot of rubble all around the Union beach along the New Jersey Shore. With lot of household article like carpets, furniture and other rubbles thrown around nobody took any notice about the rubble around. Along with this rubble there was also a artificial Christmas tree that was very inconspicuous by it presence as it was lying with tons of other rubble and nobody gave much attention to  it. A local soccer coach saw this Christmas tree lying in the rubble and he decided to take it out from the rubble and set it up on a vacant field. Soon the people in the town started slowly flocking to the place that the tree was put up and they also started decorating the tree with hand made ornaments and lights. Soon the people of Union beach started rallying round the tree, to be a part of a community to give hope amidst ruins and destruction. Union beach is just across Raritan Bay from New York’s Staten Island and this town of about 6000 people suffered serious damage due to sandy storm. The major difference between the people living in the Union shore and other Jersey shore was that the homes of the people who lived in Union shore were their only homes while for people in other New Jersey shores, the homes that were washed away were mostly getaway’s homes. Thus for the people in Union shore when they lost their home in the storm, they were literally homeless. It is in this desperate situation that they were in, that this tree suddenly inspired hope for all of them. People who lost everything in the storm now has found a fresh spark in their hopeless life.  What really inspired hope to the people around was not only in the public ownership of the Christmas tree and decorations from every home, but those tiny notes that people started hanging on the tree. One family wrote a note “We believe, we have hope, we will recover” and it these notes that has brought a new lease of life and enthusiasms to people of this town who were going through untold suffering.  With the news of this unique Christmas tree becoming viral relative of people living Union beach staying in other states have started sending decorations to light up the tree. I believe for every human being one needs to always associate with someone or something that will instill a fresh perspective and hope in life. That is why I believe the advent story has so many people and symbols that are so rich in communicating the wonderful story of God’s love.
                 We are meditating on the theme “ Transformed Living” and the portion that we shall use for our meditation is from Luke 2: 8-20. In this portion we find the angels appearing before shepherds and telling them about the wonderful birth about a Saviour who is born in the town of David. And then the angels give a sign to the shepherds with regards to the birth of saviour. Looking at another perspective the angel tells that you can find the saviour through these signs. What are the signs that angels gives them. The angel tell them that you will find a baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger. There are three signs that angels give them; 1. A baby, 2. Swaddling Clothes and 3. Manger. I believe the essence of Christmas could be found in these three signs that the angel gave the shepherds. Jesus as a babe represents God becoming a human, ready to experience life in the form and emotions that we all go through and live. Every babe at those times would be wrapped in such a way that they would be protected from harsh conditions. But it is these swaddling clothes that could also be seen as our Lord consciously becoming an individual who though omniscient restricts himself to time and space and finally the manger become the powerful symbol of humility of God. God who takes the form of not only a human being but consciously taking upon himself the symbols that have no value in they eyes of the society like that of a manger. This rich theological understanding is expressed by Paul in Philippians 2, where he describes God taking the nature of a servant [ Phil 2: 6-10]. Thus in this advent season, the signs of a baby, clothes and manger which has not much value in our materialistic world, become the most powerful signs of hope, of redemption and signs and model of the way to live in God’s family as God’s children. In our time of despair and hopelessness  let these signs that the angel give to shepherds bring to us also sign of renewed hope and living that we can find through Jesus Christ.

Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla