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This Christmas

Two Christmases ago, my 26-year job had just ended.

Last Christmas, I was fresh into a heart condition diagnosis.

This Christmas, I’m thinking about Mary.

My heart is much better and, in addition to music gigs, I‘ve begun teaching in an afternoon program for at-risk middle schoolers.

Still - sometimes, I feel less viable, maybe almost invisible. When I walk the dog in the morning, I realize I am not in the flow of people driving to their jobs. If I grocery shop midday, I allow myself to feel on a lesser level than the customers who purposefully buzz through the store on their lunch breaks. Sometimes, I think I notice people looking past me - like I’m invisible.

So I think about Mary and how the story of Christmas - this cornerstone of our faith and of the season that’s the reason for a huge cultural and consumptive event - began with a person who was nearly invisible and who, once she became an unwed pregnant girl, surely was at risk of losing what little viability she had.

Though I’ve heard that story countless times, it feels just a little closer this year. And if I’m closer to Mary’s story - if I’m down “in” it just a little - then I’m closer to the way God flips the world on its head through Jesus and his ministry: seeing the invisible, affirming the less viable, and as is often said, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. And while I’m there: a bit more appreciation for Joseph - his commitment to family and his willingness to take a rockier path for the sake of loyalty and compassion and faith.

This Christmas, I want to stand closer to the little family whose greatest possessions, by far, were their ability to hear and receive God’s voice and to trust in God’s call and care.

Alfred Walker

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