I’m going to just drop the humbug and try to reflect on Christmas. I have not been too “into” the season this year. I skipped the first two Sundays of Advent (end of term madness), the third was dominated by a cute but irrelevant kid’s program, and the fourth Sunday, today, I finally made it to a church with my in-laws. It was a bit of a shock to the system, being an Alliance church that is much more traditional than anything I’m used to.
And yet, all it takes is a few moments of reflection to realize, this is a big deal. God becoming a human being changes everything irrevocably. The coming of Jesus so upset the order of the day that Herod sent out a death squad to kill all babies of Jesus’ age in Bethlehem. The ones who truly saw the significance of Jesus coming were the angels,Â the shepherds and the wise men. Well, and Herod of course, but he was unaware of Christ’s coming until the wise men clued him in. But the people in the first group were all outsiders, those who didn’t belong in the mainstream of Jewish life. The shepherds were the yokels on the outside, the simple folk unacquainted with all of the pressing concerns of the day. They would have been on the margins of society, much like an immigrant or a blue collar worker who performs menial tasks.
The wise men weren’t even Jews: they were eastern astrologers and practitioners of another faith. And yet they could read the signs of the times that nobody else could. They knew that something significant was afoot, and the only reason that Herod found out what was going on was because the wise men innocently shared the news with Herod. They assumed that Herod would be overjoyed. He should have been, had he been a good king. He was neither.
Why is the coming of Jesus so threatening to people like Herod? Why do those on the peripheries recognize the coming of Jesus sooner than those at the privileged centre? Maybe we in North America are too close to the centre and are blind as well?
Lord, give us eyes to see Your coming. Jesus, help us to continue your mission of making the world uncomfortable by your very presence, bringing hope, peace, joy and love like nothing we could imagine apart from you.
I wish any and all readers of this blog a blessed Christmas, since I will not update it for a time now. I’d invite you to go and read Scot McKnight’s various posts on Advent if you want some good meditations to centre your mind and heart on the meaning of Christ’s coming.