“By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
Friday afternoon, as is our tradition, Rebekah started pulling festive home accents from the attic. She insists, by the way, that the overall effect will be more subtle this year.
By “subtle”, I think she means just a tad more nuanced than, say, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
But I do understand what she means. We’re not in Florida anymore, where running around on a gently sloping roof just a few feet from the ground meant lights all over the outside of the house. We also don’t have room inside for the growing collection of Christmas trees we’ve been giving away.
But, still, I think “subtle” may be a stretch once Rebekah gets on a roll. But that’s okay, because the coming of Christmas is such a spectacular event that we can’t help but respond to in an over-the-top fashion.
Seriously, God chose to break through time and space and enter this world as a helpless infant, and the result literally shattered darkness, setting the stage for the possibility of redemption for all of humankind. If that’s not worth getting excited about then I don’t know what is.
HUMBLE: At the same time, there’s not much about that first Christmas that had any glitz or glamor about it. The young family were traveling, they were far from home, and Joseph had a hard time finding somewhere comfortable for Mary to rest when the baby was ready to come.
But things worked out, and Jesus was born into – when you think about it – the very best of circumstances: he was born into a family that had its priorities in order; his parents had affirmed their commitment to one-another in the middle of a difficult situation; they were following God with faithfulness and resolve; and – for better or for worse, rich or poor – they were together.
Joseph and Mary may have been struggling, poor, hungry, temporarily homeless, in danger, dispossessed, and then refugees from the violence of their homeland, but they knew who they were, they knew God, and they stayed together as a family.
This is one reason Rebekah and I always put our Haitian angel doll on the top of our tree.
We put her there because, even though we are excited about the season and we love the glitz and the bling and the celebration, we are crystal clear when it comes to understanding why the savior came. Jesus came for everyone, and God loves the struggling; the poverty-stricken; the hungry; the lost; the refugee; the homeless; the repressed, oppressed, and dispossessed; the overwhelmed… God loves them just as much as he loves me.
Notice I didn’t say, “hopeless” – because the idea of hopelessness need not exist when there is a savior in this world. And that savior’s name is Jesus.
HOPE: I love the tone of hope and of faith that come through in the passage from the first chapter of Luke: “the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness…” Zechariah (John the Baptist’s father) is talking about what’s going to happen once the message of Jesus gets loose.
Well, it’s been loose now for two thousand years! And the message is just as clear, just as compelling, just as much bursting with hope, as it was then.
The real question is this: What are we going to do about it? How are we going to respond?
Hope, and Peace, and Love, and Joy – DEREK