Looking back on this past year, there are many ways we could characterize it. One would no doubt be the year of #MeToo. There were a remarkable number of revelations about famous men who abused their power and status to mistreat women in terrible ways. It’s made me look around at the men in my life and wonder; it’s made me look around at the women in my life and wonder. All men have had to bear the burden for the misbehavior of a few. I know at least one man who now wonders if he can hug a woman out of joy or affection. What a shame to curtail the loving instincts of half the population.
At Christmas, we sing many hymns that lift up Mary and her faithful obedience to God’s instructions. Joseph is rarely mentioned. When we are casting the Christmas pageant, no one asks “who is going to play Joseph?” Yet in our Christmas Eve pageant this year, Joseph stood out. When baby Jesus grabbed hold of Mary’s hair like it was a life raft, young Joseph tried to release Jesus’ grip. When baby Jesus began to cry, again Joseph moved Mary’s long hair out of the baby’s face – daring to touch another teen’s hair, daring to move it over Mary’s shoulder. I was impressed with Joseph’s participation. He was in it with Mary.
But, alas, baby Jesus would not be calmed. So out came Ben, our youth minister and new father. He confidently rocked baby Jesus into silence. But when Ben placed the baby back in Mary’s lap, little Jesus started to cry again. From behind the holy couple the baby’s father crept out and quieted ‘him’. Eventually, baby Jesus was replaced by a baby doll who didn’t make a peep. But, the tableau left in my mind’s eye was of a baby being nurtured by men, by a boy; of the manger giving out light, of light shining on love. I’m not sure what will heal the hurts of #MeToo or how we will be able to freely share affection with one another again, but I do know it starts in the manger. It is carried forward by those of us who gathered around it and saw God’s love in both Mary and Joseph. May your New Year be bathed in the light of Christ.