God decided to show up - visibly, audibly - on earth.
Not just to show up on earth, but as a human being
Not just as a human being but as a baby
Not just as a baby, but one who would be born of a human being
Not just born of a human being, but a virgin
Not just a virgin, but an unmarried on
Not just an unmarried one, but a poor one that no one knew from no where that anyone cared about
Not just to a poor nobody, but in a barn, in a feeding trough, in spare rags
Not in a palace of luxury and affluence
Not to a king of influence and power
Not with royalty gathered around
Not with great ceremony and ritual
Not as a great and powerful warrior
Not as a god among men
God decided to show up - visibly, audibly - on earth as a baby born to a poor virgin no one knew about from a place no one cared about in a place where animals slept, ate, and defecated.
If God has so thoroughly rejected the way of wealth, influence, and power, why do we still live as if the way to change the world, make a difference, and live fulfilled lives here is through these means?
Jesus dealt with poverty by making Himself poor
Jesus dealt with violence by becoming its target
Jesus dealt with wrongdoing by radical forgiveness
Jesus dealt with power by being overpowered
Jesus dealt with the hatred of enemies with the love of a Father
As I heard Shane Claibourne say, “We can no more defeat death with death than we can defeat darkness with darkness. We counter death with life and hatred with love.”
I think we use a lot of the same words that Jesus does - justice, salvation, love, redemption, hope, freedom, peace, etc. - but I think He meant something altogether different than we do.
Jesus rejected the myth that violence, power, wealth, and influence were redemptive forces for the great crises of human life.
This Advent lets walk through the cold, lonely night, humbly enter into the inhospitable barn-turned-delivery room, pull up a bale of straw and sit quietly, meditatively, and repentantly beside the makeshift crib of God in human flesh. Let’s not open our mouths. Let’s not ruin it with words or gifts or ideas. Lets soak in the smells, the sights, the sounds, and the magnitude of not just that God has come but the way in which He has come. Lets not leave His fragile, vulnerable, weak, fully dependent presence until He has reworked our false notions of how change will be wrought and peace brought to this broken world of ours. Listen to Him cry. Watch His mother comfort Him. Be offended at how unsanitary and crude are His surroundings. Be angered that the people who have longed and prayed and studied and proclaimed and looked for this Savior are no where to be found, making no offerings, singing no songs, giving no gifts. Be shocked that the world does not work that way you thought it did. Be stunned. Sit by this baby for a night, and looking deep into his face ask yourself, “What kind of world am I living in? What kind of God is this? What kind of life am I being asked to leave?”
These, friends, are the gifts of Christmas. Shall we find the courage to open them and let them reorient our worlds?