Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Glorious Interruption

After a month of concentration on Advent and Christmas, I’m finding it tough to get back to where I was with regard to “exploring the cloister.”  Don’t get me wrong:  I absolutely love Christmas.  I savor the days of Advent anticipation, I enjoy preparing gifts, and I love meditating upon the birth of Christ.  I’m thrilled to watch my grandchildren being told that at last they get to find out what has been waiting under the tree.  But when it comes to many activities, the Christmas season constitutes… well…..  an interruption. 

Today it hit me.  That is exactly what Christmas is.  That’s what Christmas has been since the instant of the Incarnation:  an interruption.  Please stay with me here, because our first reaction to the word “interruption” could be negative.  But interruptions are often quite positive, and this Interruption was the most positive of them all.

Think of it.  Mary was living a quiet, hidden life.   She was betrothed.  Then one day an angel appeared to her, and with that Holy Interruption Mary’s life was changed forever … as was Joseph’s, as was yours, as was mine. 

As we know, there was a Birth.  There were shepherds tending their flocks, and again an angel appeared.  A night of sheep-watching was interrupted.  While most of the world went on unaware, some men in the east also noticed something out of the ordinary.  A sign in the sky.  Something signaling, to them, a wondrous interruption – one so marvelous that they must drop any other plans they had and go in haste, and they must bring gifts.  These men were wise enough to know that somehow the world had changed, maybe even that the course of life on earth had been altered. 

The change was so shattering that mankind took notice;  calendars would later mark the divide.  God Himself had split the heavens.  We now measure time by the before and after of that Grand Interruption, in effect saying that yes, we see.  We may not understand, really, but we recognize the wonder and the mystery of it.  God interrupted the cycle of sin and death by breaking into our world (John 3:16).  Jesus broke into the flesh of man, shattering hopelessness with His power and mercy. 

With Jesus' arrival in the flesh, God interrupted our sin and misery.  He opened to us the path to salvation and interrupted our hatred and our lack of peace.   

With Jesus' arrival in the flesh, God ripped through the fabric of time.    

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