The season of Advent is about Hope.
During Advent we welcome One who was “born to set thy people free.” What words of grace—born to set us free. We are in bondage today to so many things. We are held captive by our own expectations—to do the best, to over-achieve, to have the most, and bigger is always better. We live in a world of the super size, super stars and high definition. And yet the God of Advent comes to us in the ordinary, in the smallness of things, in the things we often gloss over or brush aside because we are looking for God in the big things.
In the movie Nativity, I believe one of the most tender scenes is when Mary and Joseph are on their way to Bethlehem and stop to make camp for the night. Mary is frightened and she shares her feelings with Joseph. She feels the baby kicking inside of her, just as any mother would as she brings her baby to term. But the baby that is kicking inside her—is the Son of God who will one day redeem the world. As they settle down for the night, Joseph takes a piece of bread out of the pouch. It’s their daily ration of food. He then gives Mary the largest piece. And the piece he takes for himself, he later gives to the tired and hungry donkey after Mary falls asleep. Then the camera pans out and you get this wide-angle shot of Joseph and Mary sleeping on the rocky hard ground under the wide expanse of the night sky—a canopy of millions of stars. They are surrounded by all of creation. And amidst this panoramic view, the couple seems so fragile and small—not super sized not even super stars, but two ordinary people, together trying to survive the journey of a lifetime. Two people who are excited one moment and fearful and full of doubt the next but nonetheless chosen by God.
It never ceases to amaze me that God often begins with small things and inadequate people. It certainly seems that God could have chosen "bigger" things and "better" people to do His work in the world. Yet if God can use them, and reveal Himself through them in such marvelous ways, it means that He might be able to use you and me, inadequate, unwise, and all too often lacking in faith as we do. And it means that I need to be careful that I do not in my own self-righteousness put limits on what God can do with the smallest things, the most unlikely of people, in the most hopeless of circumstances. I think that is part of the wonder of the Advent Season.
As the prophet Zechariah reminds us (Zech 4:10), we should not "despise the day of small things," because God does some of his best work with small beginnings and impossible situations. So this Advent remember that God’s hope moves in and through the small things of life. Those people [you and I] and events that seem to most of the world as unimportant, inadequate, and unwise God chooses to use to bring about peace and reconciliation in the world.
So, may each of you discover for yourself the miraculous Hope that came to us through the heart of the Christ child, born of a virgin, and whose first moments of life were spent in a feed trough of warped and imperfect boards. That is so typical of God. That is so Advent!
Advent Blessings of Hope and Joy,
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