December 16, 2018

Advent 2018

"God's Story"

 

In thinking about the gospel story regarding the birth of Christ, we are easily reminded of the major characters:  baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, angel choirs, the shepherds, the sheep, the magi, the star...they all blend together to form a beautiful tapestry of the perfect night.  Our focus is clearly on Jesus in this story, but the irony is that God's primary focus was not on the manger that cool, dark night.

 

If God's purpose in bringing Christ to life, a real human life, was to allow humanity to see a glimpse of God in walking, breathing flesh, then that changes the way I view this story.  I am sure God was watching and smiling on the birth of Jesus, but the whole purpose, and therefore God's focus, was also us--not just the manger.  God was watching us on that night, too.  

 

To further complicate the story, if God's focus was us, then it's important to realize that the major characters that we champion and pay attention to are only half of the narrative.  God was paying attention to those of us who don't have titles, the marginalized, the poor, those dealing with depression, those who are tired, weak, carrying burdens, angry, sick, caregivers, those dealing with the death of a loved one, those who are so very different from ourselves that we fail to connect, liberal intellectuals, conservative intellectuals, all political parties in between, probably even those of us who know that most of our needs are met but are so wrapped up in our safe world that we forget to see the hurt around us.  

 

Jesus was looking up at us from the manger...and God was looking down to us.  Swaddled in a divine embrace, that solitary night changed the world for all of us.  On that night, God stared up at all of us from the manger.

 

We are the final piece in the story; we are the minor characters, but our work is anything but minor.  It is us who God calls to continue the work for which Jesus laid the foundation.  It is us that God is watching and calling on, even today.  On that night, the Star of David made sure to shine brightly; remember it is our job to do the same.  God cut into the deep, dark of that night so that we can cut into the deep, dark of this world and shed light.  

 

Even in the last stanza of one of my very favorite Christmas hymns, and FBC traditions, we hear a gentle reminder that when the dawn comes, and the deep darkness is broken, redeeming grace is the legacy of Christ and our mission in the world.

 

 Silent night, holy night!

Son of God, love's pure light

Radiant beams from thy holy face,

With the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

 

This season, how have you intentionally shared the redeeming grace of Christ with another one of the gospels' minor characters?  In Luke we read, "The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen.  It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!" (Luke 2:19-20 The Message).

 

This season, be bold.  Let loose; glorify and praise God for all that you have heard and seen--to the major characters in your own life and the minor ones as well.  Live into a life filled with glorious expectations, and live your life in a way that promises others that they, too, are a part of the story--and that they too may walk through their own journeys with the promise of redeeming grace.

-- Nicki Brewer

 

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