The building used to be a church; now it’s an expensive restaurant, and Jesus has been sent outside. Did the diners going in for a break from their shopping even notice the little family sheltered in makeshift quarters close by?
Walking past this iconic Nativity, I found myself wondering if it could possibly have happened this way, and not just because they didn’t have buildings like that in Bethlehem. Recalling my own experience as a new mother, I asked myself: would she have knelt, even for him?
Would she have knelt, or would she have wanted to take him into her arms and hold him close? She’d already waited so long to do that, to feel his warm cheek against her breast, to cradle his head in her palm. To begin to know him as a person, not just a promise. She’d felt the presence of this love all the while it was growing in her, and now it was real.
It’s like that for all of us, I think. We carry a seed of love close to our hearts. It’s what connects us to each other, and to the universe. We know it’s there and we’re hungry to experience it, but that can’t happen until we make it real by bringing it forth into this world, which is labor.
And the certainty that love is real and will be brought forth–that is hope.
So greetings on the first day of Advent from New Hope PA. I do love the name of my little town, love living in a place where hope is always new. May you find new hope in this season of love.
(You can walk past this manger, by the way, but you can’t park in front. The valet service needs those spaces, and anyway, these days traveling Wise Men might more likely arrive by Lyft than by camel, and surely they’ll want to be able to pull right up to the curb.)