By Steven Shields of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

…And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb…For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”  Luke 1:41–42, 44–45

Most everything about Jesus’ birth was ordinary, simple, commonplace. Joseph and Mary were nobodies. Just an ordinary, working-class couple.

Joseph worked hard for a living and had no prospect of ever being rich. Mary, an unwed mother, had no hope for a life at all except for Joseph’s grace and generosity to go through with their marriage.

Much is said of Jesus’ humble birth, but the retrospective from a modern, economically developed cultural viewpoint assumes things that are not true. In Jesus’ time, almost everyone was poor. In Jesus’ time, almost all babies were born in abject poverty. Jesus’ birth was no different from most other babies born that same day in Judea.

The only parts of Jesus’ birth that were not commonplace were the angelic heralding to a ragtag band of shepherds and the prophetic messages given to those close to Mary. Even so, the guests were common, ordinary people.

Of course, who Jesus was and is gives us cause for great rejoicing. But what really makes it special is that everything about him was common, ordinary. Just like most of us. Jesus was born just like all of us. He grew up playing with the neighborhood children and learning to work; he never had wealth and status. Jesus is for everyone, regardless of any of the social trappings humans find so important and spend lifetimes seeking.

We rejoice because Jesus was and is one of us. Everyone has access to the Divine. That is precious in a world of status symbols. We can simply reach out and take all that Jesus offers. We rejoice in God’s unconditional grace and generosity as revealed in Jesus Christ.

Prayer for Peace:

Generous God, we thank you for our poor yet powerful Jesus. May we not love power, but feel the power of love in our soul and use that power for peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Joy of Gratitude

With arms outstretched, imagine God filling your arms with your family, friends, and possessions. Now, bring your arms across your body. Place your hand over your heart and thank God for the abundance.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will seek peace above power.

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