Forty Days Later (For You and for Me)
Forty days, a little over a month, of newborn snuggles and breastfeeding closeness…
Forty days of blissful “Look how sweet he is!” interspersed with exhaustion and sleep-deprivation.
Forty days of diapers, stolen naps, and fuzzy newborn kisses.
And somehow in there, the couple probably checked out of their hotel stable, stood in long lines at government offices, signed papers for the Roman census, and rued the way that donkey rides bounced painfully against still-tender regions. (And somewhere in there –since our ceramic nativity sets are wrong– Mary and Joseph looked for a new place to live in town, and Joseph probably sought out and bid on some carpentry contracts, since the family was in a home when the wise men arrived sometime in the next twenty-four months.)
Just when life was falling into a routine, forty days had passed.
Fulfilling tradition and their Jewish upbringings, Mary and Joseph took one-month old Jesus from the hotel stable, or from their new home, to the fabulously-architected Jewish temple in big-city Jerusalem nearby. Just when the memories of angel visits and awestruck herdsmen may have been fading from the sleep-deprived parents’ eyes, God Almighty issued a reminder.
This was no ordinary baby.
In a ceremony from millenia previous, the young couple brought the cheapest sacrifice allowed, scraping from their rent money the necessary amount to consecrate this baby back to God, thanking him for their son. Holding two birds they had bought from outside the temple, they lifted their baby high, waiting for the religious leaders to pray and bless the boy.
Suddenly tradition and ceremony halted. Breaking from the expected script, an older man stepped forward and cried out loudly, “Highest King of All, oh God. Just like you promised, I can now die a fulfilled man. I have seen with my own eyes what you talked about. Your plan from the beginning to rescue the world– all people, all nations– I have seen it now with my own eyes. This baby… this is no ordinary baby! He is your rescue plan from this darkness.”
The old man spoke again, adding deeper, personal notes to the stunned mom and dad.
To add to the eerie temple scene, an eighty-four-year old woman, a familiar presence in the temple as a woman of prayer and worship, hobbled up, exclaiming exuberantly of similar promises and thanking God loudly.
Forty days may have passed since you last saw God move in huge ways. Life may be moving along along at a normal pace for you, for me. Life can easily fall into a routine, far from angel choruses and blinding lights.
But–when you want to hear from God anew, when you want to be reminded that this is no ordinary life, that you are indeed on a cosmic adventure with God–simply step back into the awareness of God’s presence. Walk in, with hands held open. Into your church, or simply at your kitchen table with his Word spread wide, walk into his presence, and wait to hear the reminders of promises, of inexplicable joy, of a Story unfolding from the beginning of time.