While the religious, spiritual and social implications of Christ' birth are often lost amid political repurposing and consumerist traditions we've perhaps grown too comfortable with, there are still those among us making an effort to observe Christmas' passage in the most reverent sense. This year I got to join some friends while they did so and it went like this.
On Christmas night I drove out to Ola to gather with the Jordan family at Grandparents Bill and Deborah's house. After a perfect, humble meal of soup and cornbread we bundled up and headed across the way to an old open shed barn at the Broken-O-Ranch. By candle and lantern light, the family read the nativity story, sang hymns, offered prayers and most importantly, felt the cold and experienced the darkness and poverty that was present on that night long ago. The manger was strewn with golden straw and the table was set for one's imagination to draw parallels and visualize that first holy night. Deborah, the architect of this annual tradition, closed us out, asking us to remember that Jesus of Nazareth, one of the most powerful and influential figures this world has known, began life and often lived in such barren, lowly places. Of special note to me were the littlest one's simple but solemn prayer of gratitude for the creation of this world and the two older girls voices innocently breaking through what was otherwise a silent night. This family, especially these children, will forever be rich in memories.
Beyond redemption and salvation, I always felt like the idea of God being willing to come as man was also a way of showing solidarity with humanity. It was as if God said, 'I too, will suffer as you do. To create a connection between us, I will walk in your shoes.' When I see a family returning that gesture by gathering in a candlelit barn on a winter night, it feels like I am witnessing the sort of reciprocity necessary for any genuine union. In following his steps they are, in effect, saying it back to Him, completing the two way exchange of earnest relationship.
Thankful to the Jordan family for allowing me to sit in on this sincere and affecting expression of faith. While the old song says that all are precious in His sight, folks who live and believe with intention such as theirs are especially precious in mine.