Read by the author tis-the-season-12_22_20.mp3
The story is so familiar, a centerpiece – or a sidebar – to a beloved celebration festooned with lights, decorations, gifting, food, and parties. Since we rehearse the narrative every year we have perhaps become a bit desensitized to its science-fictional flavor. Somehow even a secular culture celebrates the premise of an all powerful being – interested not only in our existence but in our fate – choosing an unimaginably vulnerable entrance into humanity. A compelling narrative! We accept that He decided to take on our human nature so He could both mediate for us and atone for our treachery against Him. We glibly sing about a baby born of a virgin – a physical impossibility. We marvel at the thought of extra-terrestrials announcing the arrival of a hybrid who would rule over both realms, the seen and the unseen. We wonder at the obtuseness of a people who had been anticipating His coming for centuries, one heralded by God Himself in Genesis and spoken of repeatedly in the prophets and poetry, and yet mostly dismissed when He actually arrived. He was obscure enough that the first unlikely worshippers, societal misfits, had to be told of His birth by angels, and later non-Jew astrologers were enticed by a phenomenal star to gift Him as king. Even those well versed in the prophecies missed this pivotal historical incident entirely.
The birth which sparked our elaborate traditions happened without fanfare, parties, applause and admiration – except by a few. One must ask how such an inconspicuous event morphed into a commercial mega holiday, not to mention being the dividing point of historically marking time (BC and AD). God’s ways are often baffling, and the birth of Jesus is no exception. It is curious that so many of us seem to embrace and rehearse the story without being profoundly affected by its message. Frenzied preparation for the festivities often overshadows contemplating the implications of such an inconceivable insertion of God Himself into time.
Perhaps in our muted subconscious we recognize that there is a fatal flaw that runs through our hearts, and despite our best efforts to tame it we know that given the right set of circumstances we could participate in even the most horrendous crimes. History is replete with evidence of ordinary people doing horribly evil things, often because of some ‘moral’ conviction. We do have our bright side, but it takes effort and determination for it to flourish. The dark side is always lurking, ready to pounce. Do we dare hope for a light dawning in the darkness?
The Jewish heritage was entrusted with the story of God’s intention and interaction with mankind. From the very beginning, humans were treasured by a God of love. This flies in the face of other creation mythology. The sad reality is that the sentiment was not reciprocal, but man turned inward for his worth, thereby relinquishing the place of privilege which was his intended destiny. His own petty kingdom where he was ruler was preferable to the expansive realm where he stewarded God’s interests. This selfward bent is consequently inbred into the race. The act of man turning away, called sin, distorted not only natural law affecting the cosmos, but altered human DNA. Evil was introduced to our current reality by man’s desire for autonomy.
~DO WE DARE BELIEVE IN SUCH A PHENOMENAL INTERVENTION?~
So God tells the tale of our relationship. He does not lash out, He reaches out. His story does not call for destruction, as one would expect, but promises redemption, and that to a higher dimension than we lost. He promises to buy us back from our tortuous taskmaster for a price we are unable to pay ourselves. He Himself must pay it, and as we unwittingly chose death by insisting on our rights, Jesus must intentionally choose death by laying down His own. So the first mention of a Redeemer who will save His people from their sins occurs right after the transgression. The race has lived in hope for restoration to eternal significance ever since, and because of the signposts the Jews have faithfully been recording over the many years, we can recognize the One Who fulfilled the most unexpected predictions of the prophets. Myriads of them! Obscure, illogical, even preposterous predictions – a baby born of a virgin??
Do we dare believe in such a phenomenal intervention? That Jesus was born so He could choose death? That He led an obscure, humble, ordinary life at the will of Another to redeem the lives that chose to serve self? Is He a just a teacher, a good example? Such celebration and exaltation is out of context with that being His main objective. We have gone out on a limb to dare to hope that such a fantastical redemptive love story is true. And He was nailed to a limb to convince us that it is. Let the festivities begin!!