“Like Photographs, (at least before we all started snapping pictures on our phones,) the Gospel stories develop over time. Each subsequent report in Luke, each reference to an angel, to a meal, to a promise, will give new meaning to the Christmas events.” (Light of the World, Amy-Jill Levine).
We’ve all seen the photographic process in person or at least in a movie…. the paper that looks blank goes into one solution then another and gradually a picture emerges. I love this image and the connection to the Christmas story. For a picture to emerge, the paper is transformed. Look back at the lives of people that we have met in the Gospel of Luke, their lives are transformed. God kicks off the transformation by sending in the first Angel and the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth are changed forever. Another Angel enters the story with Mary, but her visit to Elizabeth makes it all real for both women. Mary and Elizabeth are not experiencing normal pregnancies. They start to really understand what that means when they are together. The Angels come to the shepherds, but think about the impact of their visit to the manger. Mary gives birth in a humble setting. She finds herself with a new baby and a husband who is not really the father of that baby. Did she start to wonder if all of this was a bad dream? Did she just imagine that Angel? Enter the Shepherds.
“Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them., with the story of the Angels and the “good news”.
Mary and Joseph have just had the amazing story confirmed. Angels may be hard for your human brains to comprehend, but the shepherds. Real people. Real. hard working, no agenda people. The shepherds link into the big story, in a big way. They tell their experience with the Angels and the good news that is centered on a baby… Mary’s baby, in the manger. Mary treasured these words in her heart. Mary has truly been transformed; giving birth to the Savior of the world just got real.
Back to image of the developing photograph. Can you see the story coming together? Stories like photographs take time. Let’s time some time in the last week before Christmas to see how the full story develops for us today.
Grace and Peace at Advent