A Christmas Story
This Thanksgiving I traveled all the way to Bulgaria and back with a few members of my family, including my great-nephew Bret: two months old. Bretís uncle is my nephew Bryan, who was marrying a wonderful woman he met while working with Peace Corps in Sofia, Bulgaria. We got there in plenty of time. The wedding was short and beautiful; the reception was long and joyous. The day after the wedding, I arrived at the Sofia airport at 6:00 a.m. with my nieces Sarah, Katie, and Julie, and Julieís newborn son Bret. We were all anxious to get home, but especially Julie because she left her two other children home with her husband Ben, who incidentally is the nephew of Ann & Chris Johnson here in our parish. No matter where youíre from, the longer you stay in Cameron, the more people you get related to.
Anyway, we got to the airport that Sunday morning in Sofia and we learned that our flight had been canceled. The airline could not get us home until Monday night, a full day later than we had planned for. When Jesus was born, there was no room at the inn; after Bret was born, there was no room on the plane. Julie did what Iím sure Mary did in Bethlehem. She cried. But the airline, after putting us into a modern-day Christmas story, became a Good Samaritan. They flew us to Munich, put us up in a hotel near the airport, and saw that we were fed twice before getting on board another plane the next day. Still, it was stressful. We could have toured Munich for a day, but we didnít want to. We just wanted to stay together as a family, veg out at the hotel and sleep.
Bret was great. He never cried. He ate and slept like a champ. He let us hold him and roll him around in his stroller. He reminded us that there was more to life than missing planes, upsetting plans, being tired, being hungry, being alone, or being somewhere else besides where you want to be. Bret reminded us we had to take care of one another, to be patient, and that our time together as a family would be more important than anything else that was happening to us. I felt much closer to my nieces after that trip. No one wants to face adversity, but adversity can bring good results. It can remind you what you stand for, and what you really believe. Joseph and Mary faced plenty of adversity when the time came for Jesus to be born, but Iím sure that little infant reminded them of things more important than sturdy shelter, a comfy bed and tired feet.
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a Child who comes to us in the midst of our adversity. We have genuine struggles with national enemies, business competitors, even with people we love, and with our own sins. Sometimes adversity wins, and we lose our way. But other times something happens, or some One happens, who overcomes our adversity and reminds us how we should think and act. Even an infant can do it.
God entered our world not as a mighty warrior to remove our enemies; not as a wise adviser to answer all our questions; but as a homeless infant. We wanted someone to take care of us, but we got an infant who pulled out of us a desire to care about him. That is the miracle of Christmas.
ďPastorís Corner.Ē DeKalb County Record-Herald 141/35 (January 4, 2006):16.