Amazement in Ordinary Time

Candles at the Christmas Tree Lighting 2015

The day around Bethlehem seemed no different than most: shepherds in the field, people wandering through town, paying taxes! It was just another day of work, and family life.

Most of our days seem quite ordinary too. We work, go to school, spend time with family and friends, go to sleep. We wake up the next day and do it all again. But sometimes in the midst of the routine, something breaks in that is completely unexpected. It might be the best of events, or the worse. Either way, the invasion throws our life into a spin.

The Christmas story found in Luke 2 tells of a quite spectacular invasion into ordinary time. The announcement comes to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly the ordinary is filled with the extraordinary: an angel, blazing glory, heavenly choirs, amazing news of the birth of a unique son. The shepherds run to find Mary and Joseph, and a baby lying in a manger. A most ordinary scene is now filled with amazement.

Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote:

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. . . . get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

What a goalto live life with a sense of amazement! The message of Christmas is that God meets us in the midst of the ordinariness of our lives. “To us a son is given.” He steps into the best, and the toughest situations of our lives. His promise“I am with you”brings a sense of wonder and joy.

In this merry season, and all year long.

+ Read more from our series of Advent reflections here.