Feeling Christmassy yet? Me neither. Just came back from a nice holiday. But it’s the end of anther demanding year. And like most of my years this past decade, it was a year of many downers interspersed with some incredible highs. I am tired, just have enough energy to see the year out. No, I am not feeling Christmassy at all.
I doubt that Joseph and Mary were feeling particularly Christmassy that first Christmas either. With Mary pregnant and near to term, they were on the road, a result of some new government ruling. (Luke 2:1-7) They were carrying heavy burdens, and buffeted by forces beyond their control. Sounds like many of us.
They had had their highs. Both had had angelic visitations. (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1: 26-38) They both knew that the child that Mary was carrying was special. But with no vacancy signs flashing everywhere, and Mary needing to go to the bathroom every half hour or so, and the crowds, and the incessant horning of the cars, spiritual matters were far from their minds.
And then the child decided it was time to arrive. No swanky maternity hospital. They had to make do with what they could get. God arrived in a manger. A poor man’s Eden. God, two human beings, and the animals.
Yes, theological purists, Jesus is also a human being. But He is also God. And that’s the point. In the midst of our carrying heavy burdens and being buffeted by forces beyond our control, God shows up. In the midst of the travails of life the Saviour appears.
I can’t help but feel that there is Divine humour here. The world is in deep doo-doo. Many of us are just struggling to survive. We need a Saviour. And He shows up without angelic outriders. He shows up as a weak and helpless baby.
This is totally ludicrous. This is sheer madness. What are you up to God? Then we see the twinkle in His eye. We see His smile.
God is up to something. Sometimes we are not quite sure what He is up to. But He’s gonna win and win big. So we know it’s ok. Everything is going to be all right.
This is the Christmas message. God showed up.
“Then the Lord said: ‘I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt, and have heard their them crying out because of their oppressors, and I know about their suffering. I have come down to rescue them’ ” Exodus 3:7-8a HCSB
More than that, He shows up as a weak baby to show us that in terms of power, love and smarts, we are totally out of His league. Yes, the world, and our lives, may be in serious trouble. But let us not insult God by thinking that our troubles are outside His salvific abilities.
We may not always recognize His presence in our lives. But He is there. And He is working. He is not working in some never never land of Santa Clauses and eggnog where daily realities are suspended. He is working in the midst of our most difficult circumstances.
So if we are not feeling Christmassy, that’s ok. Because Christmas is not about Christmas. It’s about God. He did not leave us in the ditch. He came to rescue us. He is coming again.
Indeed He is working in our lives right now. Whether we feel it or not. And even the deepest pains we are going through, may be the birth pangs of His special purposes.
So as we join Joseph and Mary yet again, to view and marvel at the newborn babe, may our faith be renewed. God showed up. Everything is going to be ok.
A Blessed Christmas to one and all!
Your brother, Soo-Inn Tan