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It was in Bethlehem

that a birth changed the world,
the desert dry, and people

hoping for rain but none fell.
Suddenly out of evening shadows,

a man walked the dusty road.
He was tired from too many miles of travel.

Beside him, his wife straddled a donkey.
She was uncomfortable and about to give birth.

They stopped as soon as they could, having been
ordered by the king—like everyone else—

to report to Bethlehem to pay taxes.  Night came
in relative silence, everyone weary, huddled together.

Distant stars shone from a cold, gray sky.
Strangers looked on, while that dear Virgin

labored in a small barn.  And about midnight,
a baby boy was born with nothing unusual

about the delivery.  The mother nursed her neonate,
hummed to Him softly, while impoverished shepherds

herded sheep in fields of sand.  And when those shepherds
saw His star as a sign, they went to bow before Him

in an act so humble that even today
some deny God actually came.

“We can have the mercy of God whenever we want it, by being merciful to others: for it is God’s mercy that acts on them, through us, when He leads us to treat them as He is treating us.”

Thomas Merton.   No Man Is An Island: 211

“Forever I will maintain my mercy for him; my covenant with him stands firm.” Psalm 89: 29

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Holding On to the Christ by Henri Nouwen

Life is unpredictable.  We can be happy one day and sad the next, healthy one day and sick the next, rich one day and poor the next, alive one day and dead the next.  So who is there to hold on to?  Who is there to feel secure with?  Who is there to trust at all times?

Only Jesus, the Christ.  He is our Lord, our shepherd, our rock, our stronghold, our refuge, our brother, our guide, and our friend.  He came from God to be with us.  He died for us, he was raised from the dead to open for us the way to God, and he is seated at God’s right hand to welcome us home.   With Paul, we must be certain that “neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 8:38-39).

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