Weekly Devotional

Back to Normal

Reflection by Liz Garrigan Byerly

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. 


After everything was finished, they returned home. After the census, the birth, the glorious songs of angels and visits from shepherds, after the rituals in Jerusalem marking the birth, Mary, Joseph and Jesus returned home. But life never went back to normal. It never does with the birth of a baby, and especially with the birth of this baby.

It’s only a few days after Christmas and everything may not be finished—there are still parties to attend and gifts to give-- but Christmas trees are dropping their needles, cookies are getting stale and we’re starting to get antsy about putting away the decorations. As much as we love Christmas, we want life to go back to normal.

But there never really is a back to normal, is there. After a holiday, after a move, after a death, we may find our way back to our routines, but we are never really the same as we were before, and life never really goes back to normal. There is both opportunity and loss in that; joy and sadness too.

We know almost nothing about Jesus’ childhood. Luke tells us he was filled with wisdom and that the favor of God was upon him. Was that evident to everyone who knew him or only to his mother, who treasured all those things in her heart? Whatever ups and downs the “new normal” brought for Mary and Joseph, it was filled with God’s presence; the child who grew and became strong was Emmanuel, God-with-Us. And that made all the difference to them and the world.

Prayer: As life goes back to normal, O God, help us to stay attuned to your holy presence, especially in the places where life can never go back to normal. Amen. 

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