Second Week of Advent part 2

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Dec 10, 2008 by Howard Baker | 0 Comments

A reflection for the second week of Advent suggested by Dr. MacFarland based on Luke 2:1-20:

The Christmas story is familiar to everyone. Christmas cards and other modern renditions give us glimpses of flawless Mary in pristine wrinkle-free clothing, a steady and unperturbed Joseph in an equally immaculate robe, a cheerful stable with clean straw and friendly animals, and the arrival of shepherds in newly laundered snow-white tunics with dirt-free sandals on their feet. It is a romanticized version of course, and can cause problems for our own spiritual growth if we take it too seriously.

Luke's version is different: Mary isn't even officially married to Joseph yet she's pregnant; they have to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a distance of forty miles through the Samaritan and Judean hills; Mary goes into labor in Bethlehem, but there is no proper room for her; she gives birth-never an easy process under the best of circumstances-and has to lay her first-born infant not in a cradle, but a feeding trough; in the middle of the night shepherds burst in upon them, shepherds who smell of woodsmoke and sweat and sheep, still shocked over what they have seen in the sky (not likely welcome intruders considering that shepherds were considered rough and dangerous).  

The true Christmas story seems like something of a mess. If we put ourselves into this situation, we sense pretty quickly it is no glittering Christmas card. It is real life. In our lives things, even important things, do not always or even usually happen exactly when and where we want them to. There can be a tendency, when things do not come together smoothly, to wonder what has gone wrong with our prayers or our relationship with God. This is why the true story of Christ's birth is far more helpful to us than the parody we immerse ourselves in every December 25. This account in Luke is indeed the birth of God's Son, a birth anticipated for thousands of years, a birth announced by angels in a blaze of light, a birth unquestionably superintended by God himself. And what do we find? A child born out of wedlock. A rough journey. No room to breathe. Noise. Confusion. The pain of childbirth unalleviated, but for Joseph, by familiar faces. Strangers breaking in out of the night. Yet God's will is done.

If God brings about his Son's birth in such a dark and convoluted fashion-or so it appears to our eyes-may we not expect his will to be worked out in our lives, from time to time if not frequently, in a similar fashion?  

                       --The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, Luke 2:1-20 note

Have a wonderful break celebrating God's work in the real Christmas story and in your real story.


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