Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When the Transcendent Fills the Ordinary

I will soon write my post on the resurrection appearances of Jesus, but first I wanted to post something more appropriate for the season. The above video has been watched almost 25 million times on YouTube. Water Russell Mead wrote the following in his blog post, "The Kingdom of God in a Food Court":
To hear this music in that place, and to see this spontaneity breaking forth in the midst of life at its dullest, most routine is to see what the Gospel really is.  Just as the Hallelujah Chorus erupts into the food court, changing everything, Jesus was born into the dreary history of a defeated people while his parents were fighting the seasonal crowds in Bethlehem like shoppers hunting for a table in the food court of an overcrowded mall.
When the miracle happens, the ordinary life of ordinary people is transformed.  This solid and often dull world of work and worry suddenly moves onto a new plane: infinitely richer.  We look up — not in duty or obligation or in moral resolve — but in sheer, surprising joy.
The juxtaposition of the ordinary and the transcendent is a recurring theme in the Gospel. We have this heavenly treasure in jars of clay, says the Apostle Paul--just like the blessed Virgin Mary, a humble girl who was chosen to bear the Messiah. When the King of kings came to live among us, He was born in a stable among the animals, and the glory of the Lord lit up the night for a group of shepherds as a multitude of the heavenly host proclaimed the good news that a Savior had been born for them (Luke 2:11).

He was born for them--and for us--ordinary people who experience the prosaic drudgery of human existence, like shepherds working the night shift. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: "God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them." Like in a food court.