Advent Reader -- Day 23
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2:1-18)
Sometimes God does things we would never think of. He does things in ways we think would never work. But his ways are higher than our ways, and the foolishness of God is so much wiser than any of our plans.
If God had chosen to come to earth as a grown man, he might have been more of what his people were expecting. But a baby? The birthing process is messy, and it produces a child, totally helpless, totally dependent.
With all of its wonder and amazement, nothing about what happened that day in Bethlehem was grand. God the Father, for whom humility is utterly unnecessary, gave his child a shockingly humble birth. And, against all kinds of opposition, this tiny baby will save our lives and one day rule the world.
It doesn’t make much sense to us. But that is probably because it is we who are out of synch with the way things ought to be. And we must become dependent fools to believe it.
Still, do not miss this vitally important lesson: The God of the universe is amazingly humble and content to use the weak things of the world to confound the strong. And this truth should give us comfort. If he can use a baby to change the world, he can certainly use you.
Father God, your kingdom ways appear to be upside-down to my eyes, but I am beginning to see that it is my vision which is distorted. The mystery of the Incarnation is utterly unique in the history of the world -- the eternal Logos becoming flesh, the self-emptying of the Lord and Creator of all in order to become one of us. The radical and profound lengths to which you went in order to save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray amazes me. The story of the first Advent is so marvelous that no one but you could have conceived of it. The weakness and vulnerability of the One who holds the cosmos together is incomprehensible. Having made the world, he came into the world, knowing that he would be betrayed, rejected and crucified by the people he came to save. I praise and magnify your name, thanking you for your indescribable gift. Through Christ I pray. Amen.