I’ve spent every Christmas Eve of my life seated in a cushioned church pew or standing on wooden platform, raising a glimmering candle in the air and singing sweet songs about a sweet baby who gave himself to this world through the miracle of incarnation. My heart is as full of gratitude as my eyes are full of tears because this is our long expected Jesus. This is an Advent for Weary Souls.
This baby King came to this world in the humblest of circmstances. He came poor, weak child, utterly dependent on his mother. He was persecuted and hunted by Herod, scrutinized by his parent’s community, and born in the presence of barn animals. He spent the first two years of his life in hiding from a man who wanted to kill Him. He was an unexpected King born for the hated and neglected of the world. Much to humanity’s surprise, He was not born only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles. For the women. For the sinners. For slaves. For those who would never learn to love Him.
I think, if He was born today, generations to come would raise candles in the air and sing of a baby born in an alley to unlikely young parents who fed him on food stamps. He’d be wrapped in dirty newspapers and laid in a milk crate. Prostitutes and homeless people on city streets would come to adore him in place of shepherds. You might be shocked, but they may even be black. HE might even be black.
Jesus would sit with the kid who is made fun of for having two dads. He’d befriend and defend the kid who’s called “faggot” as he walks down the hall. Jesus would give dignity to the girl who cries when she sees the word “whore” painted on her locker because He knows her real name. He gave it to her.
At the dinner table, Jesus wouldn’t laugh along at the racist or sexist joke. He’d look at the teller with eyes full of love and grace and tell them just how much the lives of women and minorities mean to Him. Act like it or not, their lives matter too.
Instead of making trips through the disrespected region of Samaria, he’d be getting off the city train at the stops where you grip tight to your purse and become stiff in your chair.
If Jesus was born today we wouldn’t deny that He came for us all- that He values us all. But He was born over 2,000 years ago, and for some, this is just enough time to forget just how far and wide the gift extends.
I don’t know if some have just forgotten or maybe they never understood- Jesus is for everyone. If you claim to follow Him, than you should be for everyone too. In word and in deed. In the way you vote. In the way you spend your money. In the way you spend your time.
Jesus’ birth was about unifying a broken world. From the moment He was born and forever, Jesus has made room for all of us at His table. The invitation goes out to all people regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. This Christmas is about so much more than your personal relationship with God. This is about all of us. This is about our broken world.
His birth was an advent for weary souls– a voice for the voiceless, parent to the orphan, advocate for the oppressed and misunderstood. This year when I raise my candle, I will rejoice that Jesus, who is ever interceding for us, intimately understands the plight of our world. As we end a year that has been charged with immense hate and discrimination, we can look to our Blessed Hope, our Great Equalizer, a baby born in a stable and laid in a manger.