The mixed congregation, it seemed, hardly noticed the Christmas Crèche that was placed near the front of the church. A young girl, perhaps ten, from the Latino congregation that shared our space knelt before the images of the magi, Mary, Jesus, and Joseph, shepherds, animals and angels and stayed there for a moment or an eternity marveling in the scene. Finally she crossed herself and walked away. For a moment those clay figures had transported her to that place long ago in Bethlehem, and now, by her reverence, made present here.
An Introduction into a Guided Meditation for Epiphany
For much of my ministry I invited people to become a part of the story. Epiphany was full of imagery that could be translated into our present journey. And with the children and the adults, we’d go on a journey to visit the site of the birth. We travelled the long road across the desert. We watched the night sky and followed the star. We configured the trail, smooth or rocky, flat or hilly, (after all the journey is at least half the point of the story). Then as we came in site of the place where the star stood still over the manger, we’d imagine the scene. We’d stop and take our time to gaze at the child, his mother, and the father, the whole tapestry of creatures, the night air, the smells and sounds.
Then each of us would be asked to offer a gift that we had brought along to give to the child. We invited each one to look into the Child’s eyes. What did they notice, how did they feel, and what was the child telling them through his eyes, through the movement of his body, through the telepathy of his mind?
Perhaps, Mary or Joseph, or the angel also spoke to them. We didn’t want to confuse the scene too much, but you can imagine it would be a rich encounter to have been in conversation with any of them.
Before we turned away to begin the journey home, the Christ child gave each of us a gift, and we put it in our packs and brought them home to open once we had returned from the journey “by another way”.
It was hard for congregation sitting in pews, used to an eight minute sermon, to shift their ways of listening and experiencing the gospel. Yet, it was often, that all we had carried with us on our impromptu pilgrimage to offer as a gift to the child was ourselves, our hearts, and our love.
The gifts we received …infinite.
The Guided Meditation to Visit the Christ Child
I invite you to close your eyes and notice your breathing… notice any tension in your body…. See if you can release any tension…. And breathe into it…
You are on a road: notice the road… is it smooth or rough, straight or winding, wide or narrow? Notice your surroundings… what do you see along the road?
Notice the heavens…. The bright star that helps light your way….
The star now leads you to a place where it stands still…It shines its rays on a scene before you in the distance…
You approach a child who lied swaddled in a bed of hay. The child’s eyes open and look into your eyes….
Stay as long as you can and look into each others eyes….
In the silent communication between you and the child something has been spoken to you, a word, a sense of being, a feeling…. See if you can hear it….
You remember you have a gift for the child… What is it?…..
Leave it there and notice all of your surroundings….
Have they changed?….
Now you must leave.
Bow to the child and return by a different road. Notice your surroundings …
And return to this place that you left minutes or lifetimes ago….
And open your eyes.