Royalty makes for great characters in dramatic narratives. Unwedded pregnancies to young women in small town, And yet, here is one such young couple from the out of the way places who find themselves having to make a long and dangerous trip to his home town so that they can be properly registered with the government so that they can be counted and taxed. To make matters harder, the conception was virginal and caused by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Mary and Joseph are very deep into their faith. Both have worked hard to be faithful and to do what God has asked of them in their lives. The news of the baby’s coming is a shock. Sure they had planned to have kids but not until after the wedding. Anyone finding out that they weren’t fully married would have asked some hard and difficult, even embarrassing questions. Yet Mary and Joseph are prepared to welcome this little one into their lives and to be faithful to him as his parents. It is not only the right thing to do, it is the godly thing. And after all, they did go on to have the wedding and to have more children of their own. So they lived “normal” lives afterwards, didn’t they?
It is important for us to recognize that God has a plan for us – corporately as community and as individuals. God has desires for us just as we have desires for our lives and things that we want to do and accomplish. So does God. There are things that God wants to accomplish not only for us but also for himself. God desires to retrieve, redeem, and recreate his creation. We look at all this and then look at the child he sent to do this thing and we find it all, well unexpected if not a tad disconcerting. More importantly though, are we going to allow ourselves to open up and receive the Christ child into our own lives as Mary and Joseph did? Are we going to be willing to take the risks that come with being associated with this Child bring in this day and age? Like Mary and Joseph, we have opportunities to decide whether we will accept or reject Jesus when he comes to us. We will have choices to make. And we need to recognize that each decision carried with it consequences. The news of the coming birth would have been news for certain – but what about how people responded?
The annual celebration of this great feast does not mean that God was “one and done” and that Jesus now sits in a heavenly chair, watching as we struggle along… by no means! Christmas reminds us that God is active in the world today to change lives, starting with you and with me. Christmas reminds us that God is faithful to all of his promises and is working to see them fulfilled. And because this is so we are not left alone. God is faithful and keeps his word, even if it is not done as fast as we would like to see it happen. Redemption of this world is at hand and it is nearer now than it was a year ago. God is at work and calls us to join in.
God comes to us in deep humility and calls us in great vulnerability to come and follow him. We should also acknowledge that it is good staging on God’s part. After all, what can more easily move or if necessary melt the human heart than the face of a child? What relationship can see and make more change in the life of one human than that of friendship with another human being? The trees, the lights, the presents, the faces of family and friends are all signs of the hearts and lives that God is moving and drawing to the kingdom.
So this Christmastide, let us make the season about more not less – more presence not less. Let those who are close to you and near to you in the community see and feel the presence of the Child who was born for all of us in Bethlehem. Maybe some of them will see and hear him for the first time. They will find his actions unexpected. Perhaps they encounter the love of their new born king. Tell them that God has made them some promises and that he wants to be faithful to those promises and to them. Then be ready to pray and to expect the unexpected presence of Christ himself. Be ready to respond with Good News! Oh and make way for the King!