I've been struggling to write this post for some time now. Because I wanted to reflect on advent. On the hope, love, joy, peace…the anticipation of what is to come. But I've had a hard time "feeling" in the Christmas spirit this year. So I thought maybe I could write about that - but my lack of Christmas motivation couldn't really be pegged on something. I could not drum up some inspirational post about those going through difficult times, or struggling with family dynamics, etc. Because the truth is I love going home for the holiday's and I love spending time with my family. I think I've just been really busy, and I think the fact that California has had 80 degree weather has made it just not FEEL like Christmas.
But as I reflected more I thought - the anticlimactic-ness of it all is something I think we often struggle with. Something everyone has struggled with along the way.
I was re-reading the birth account in Luke the other day in my copy of "The Message" and was struck by this phrase: "This is what you are looking for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and laying in a manger" (Luke 2:12).
That's what all the fuss and prayers and anticipation and planning and preparation and prophesy have been about? Do you think the shepherds cleared their ears and asked the angels to repeat themselves? I think most of our friends would think we were crazy people if that was our response to their years of lament and cries for help.
I am oppressed and need a victor to rescue me…This is what you are looking for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and laying in a manger.
I am tired. I need rest. I need help. I need relief…This is what you are looking for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and laying in a manger
I am lonely. I need love. I need to belong. I need to feel significant…This is what you are looking for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and laying in a manger
I have no more hope. I need to believe it will all get better and there is a point…This is what you are looking for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and laying in a manger
I am poor. I need money and resources. I am afraid of what will happen to myself or my family if I can't figure out soon how to make ends meet…This is what you are looking for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and laying in a manger
But it's exactly that anticlimactic-ness that makes the story the most amazing and relatable.
When there seems to be no reason to hope, we have hope.
When there seems to no one or no reason to love, Christ became love.
When there is no cause for celebration or joy, we have joy.
When our world is so turned upside down we shouldn't find peace, Christ is our peace.
Christ came to turn the world upside down. Came in powerlessness to adjust expectations. To help us realize it was not about what we could do: with our brute force, witty political prowess or celebrity status - it's the power of God. If God was going to redeem the world, it was going to have to be done his way - and his ways are not our ways. His ways (quite frankly) make no sense a lot of the time. But they are beautifully relatable - a Savior that understand rejection, loneliness, hunger, pain, boredom, tiredness, oppression, darkness, and abandonment. But a Savior that also understand love, joy, hope, peace, perseverance, power, relief, resources and true communion with God. Had he been born our literal version of a King like Israel expected, he couldn't have understood or experienced those thing. He had to flip the paradigm upside down - he had to be born in an anticlimactic way so we would adjust our expectations and he would truly suffer human existence.
So if you're having a hard Christmas this season - whether you can't get in the holiday spirit, or you have come from a rough year with difficult struggles, or you feel lonely, or you're lacking in hope - know that you are not alone.
…This is what you are looking for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and laying in a manger.