Christ in the casual

I was listening briefly to Michael Scott's documentary series "Spin the Globe" on Radio 4 yesterday afternoon whilst driving. It is a series that looks at key dates in history (eg 1066, 1914) and what was happening elsewhere in the world at that time. Yesterday he was looking at 0 AD, and what was happening in Guatemala, Korea and Rome when the main event was, from a western Christian perspective, happening in Bethlehem... I didn't actually hear the rest of the programme (may do so  on the iplayer's Listen Again function), but by way of introduction he looked at the historicity of Jesus' existence (if not the exact date and circumstances of his birth... that hoary old subject for features editors, bloggers and preachers at this time of year) and a Dermot McCullough, Professor of Church History at Oxford University suggested that the most convincing evidence for the life of Jesus are the "various casual mentions " of him in passing in other works by writers who would have had no real interest in Palestinian Jewish affairs, or any awareness of how important this character would one day become... eg. Josephus and elite Roman historians.
"it is the sheer casualness of these mentions which is crucial. They are just mentioning Jesus on the edge of great historical events and that is what is so convincing..."
And that reminded me of my exercise of advent awareness... trying to develop an openness to glimpses of God, not in the centre of things... but on the margins... in my peripheral vision...  in the liminal reaches of perception...
As Christians, we tend to see Bethlehem 0 AD as central to space and time (those of us who haven't fallen into the perennial heresy of seeing ourselves as the centre of the cosmos), but that is only in retrospect.
At the time, in global political terms it was a marginal city in an inauspicious year.
And today perhaps God in Christ is still making himself known on the margins... out of the limelight and headlines... away from the big events and fanfares... Out on the edge of our awareness... In the casual, everyday, overlooked and mundane...
Perhaps, if you are awake to it, you might just catch a glimpse of glory out of the corner of your eye... 



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