We have listened to the angels, gathered with the shepherds at the manger and anticipate the coming of the magi who continue to follow the star. As the new year is upon us, we remember the happenings of the previous year, gaze at the present realities and look forward to the coming year with great hope. We also remember how the news of “Emmanuel” (God with us) reaches Jerusalem, the center of power, wealth, and control. As Walter Brueggemann writes in his Devotions for Advent, “King Herod was hunkered down there in fear, caught between Roman supervision and potential Jewish uprising. He received news of the birth with ….. anxiety.” Even with the hope of new life in the birth of Jesus, we confess that we can “hunker down” and be trapped by powers and situations beyond our control. We can be fearful of newness and resist change, as well.
“Even so, we cannot take our eyes off the scene in Bethlehem. We know, down below our anxiety, that something decisive has changed.” (Brueggemann)
So let us keep our eyes on this baby, who for some is a threat, but for others offers new possibilities. May we choose God’s newness as we enter 2018, for “Emmanuel,” God is truly with us.