One of my favorite Christmas albums is the The Rankins “Do you Hear What I hear.” They sing a gorgeous version of Jesus Christ the Apple Tree. There’s something so sweet, joyful, hopeful about it.
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit, and always green
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared to Christ the apple tree.
For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.
I’m weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile;
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree
This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the story of Jesus’ life, his birth, and the people surrounding it–thinking about how many things in life happen in quiet and unexpected ways and yet come with the power, vision, and divine impetus to bring great change to our lives. And how often they come in such understated, silent impulses that we second guess or dismiss them. Whether in hindsight or right in that moment, ultimately we realize their significance–that intuition, insight, the deep knowing within us comes from a pure and holy place, the sanctuary of Truth, the still small voice of God right in the midst, reaching out, propelling, revealing, embracing, awakening.
This is what is so significant about the story of Jesus and all the individuals involved: they got a message, and though initially scared, stunned, uncertain, bemused; they listened, paid attention, responded, followed. And as a result, their lives took on a meaning and purpose they, and perhaps no one, could never have imagined or expected.
Mary Baker Eddy speaks of about Mary’s experience in this way: “The Holy Ghost, or divine Spirit, overshadowed the pure sense of the Virgin-mother with the full recognition that being is Spirit. The Christ dwelt forever an idea in the bosom of God, the divine Principle of the man Jesus, and woman perceived this spiritual idea, though at first faintly developed.”
This poem by Lucille Clifton is one of a number of poems she has written about Mary and Jesus.
winged women was saying
“full of grace” and like.
was light beyond sun and words
of a name and a blessing.
winged women to only i.
i joined them, whispering
So what of us in this perhaps uneventful moment of our lives? What divine impulse is whispering? What sweet purpose are we being nudged towards? What great goodness is waiting to dawn or emerge? What songs of angels are singing? What truth is calling? What deeper justice rising?
What happened in a stable so many years ago, holds its promise of truth for this hour: a promise of spiritual being, a Christly holy nature, an opportunity to discover innocence, redemption, restoration, joy and peace. This is a promise we can reach for right now, it is one with the quiet light and hope so deep within us–waiting to be cradled, nurtured, noticed, honored, trusted and lived. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see…and glorify…”
This is the light that radiates, warms, lightens and lifts. We can trust it. As we do so, it will change everything. It will change the world.