God’s Love Made Visible
By Jane Gardner, presiding evangelist
…While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger… —Luke 2:6–7 NRSV
Folk legends from some cultures give examples of the lack of paying attention to the Divine Presence in our world. In my favorite story, Babushka is too busy to hear God’s invitation represented by Christ child. The tale is of Russian origin, but similar stories are found in many Eastern European folk traditions.
Babushka, like many of us, is task oriented. A perfectionist housekeeper always occupied with the many chores that need doing, she is too busy one evening to find out what is happening in the village. All her neighbors are out, gossiping about a bright star overhead and a nearing caravan of royalty.
Babushka is soon startled to hear a knock on her door. Three richly dressed wise men ask her if they can lodge overnight since she has the finest house in the village. The foreigners stay and tell her they are following the bright star. Why doesn’t she come, too? They are bringing gifts to a prophesied newborn king. His star is leading them on their way. But Babushka doesn’t feel as though she has a proper gift. And what a mess these visitors have made of her pristine home! She simply must stay and clean up. She will come the next day.
So the kings leave without her. When her cleaning work is done, and after she has prepared a proper gift, Babushka feels the urgent need to catch up with the dignitaries. They are a full day’s journey ahead of her, but she sets out. Everywhere she goes she asks for the wise men until she tracks them to the village of Bethlehem where she is told they have come and gone. And so has the baby. The child is the Savior of the world, and Babushka has missed him!
And so, the story goes, she continues her search year after year, for time means nothing in the search for that which is real. Legend says she can still be seen in villages at Christmastime, looking for the Christ child. “Is he here? Is he here?”
There is Babushka in all of us, busy with our lives, too preoccupied with short-range concerns to respond when God breaks in. Yet, there is something within us that keeps prodding and nudging us to become aware: God’s love has been made visible. Will we miss it?
Christmas Prayer Phrase
I ponder the mystery being born in me.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Spend a few moments dwelling in God’s presence. Pay attention to where your heart feels drawn into prayer. What words, images, or themes in this story lead you to reflect on your own faith journey? What is God’s invitation to you this day?