The world seemingly couldn’t get any crazier. Political upheaval threatens the appearance of peace. Moral depravity stretches from the entertainment world to political leaders and even into religious communities.
Religious terrorist attacks have become a common occurrence. The poor are exploited. Lives of the powerless are dismissed. Technology that promised to make things better has added new complications.
In the midst of such confusion and pain, a poor, teenager mother gives birth to a baby after a highly suspect pregnancy. And that changed everything.
Obviously, I could have been describing our day and age, but those same circumstances reflected the world when Jesus came screaming into this world as a newborn baby.
Mary was given angelic insight into the life and purpose of her son, but is it possible she ever became distracted by the all that swirled around her?
Joseph dutifully followed the instructions of the angel and went through with his engagement to the mysteriously pregnant Mary, but did he wonder if this was the moment, of all times, for the Messiah to come?
Did they sit in their make-shift delivery room with an animal feeding trough for a crib and think, “Wouldn’t it all make more sense at a different time and place?”
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times
Maybe you’re struggling to begin the Advent season. With all of the chaos happening nationally and globally, perhaps even locally and personally, is it difficult to transition into a time of reflection and festive preparation?
But this is the perfect time to celebrate Advent because as we’ve seen it echoes the first Christmas. It seemed to be the worst possible time, but God called it the “fullness of time.”
In other words, Mary was pregnant, but so was time. History had come to the moment when it was “about to pop.” Everything was ready for Jesus to come, except it didn’t look like that.
Much like parents and their first child, the world was ready, but the world wasn’t ready-ready. There was still so much that could be done to make this place suitable for the baby King.
We could fill the crib with some extra stuffed animals, instead of placing him in a feeding trough surrounded by actual animals.
Maybe we could work together and bring a little more peace to the world to welcome the Prince of Peace instead of having a murderous tyrant kill a town full of children.
But that’s just the point. We couldn’t fix it all. This baby had come into our mess because we weren’t powerful enough to clean it. It was the perfect time for the first Christmas because it was a horrible time for the first Christmas.
Are you distressed at the way this world exploits and often brutalizes the powerless? Stand in awe that Jesus came as a helpless baby to a poor, working-class couple.
Do you weep at the injustices taking place on a daily basis? Draw comfort from the Prince of Peace being born under an oppressive, exploitive government.
The world didn’t have a chance to “make itself ready” for its King to show up. He came in the midst of our messes. But He still came.
Is your life a mess leading up to Advent this year? Things aren’t the way you’d like. You aren’t as peaceful or put-together as you want. Chaos and disorder characterize your house more than glad-tidings and good cheer.
You’re in good company. It sounds a lot like the first Christmas.
Seeing a world similar to the one that Jesus entered 2,000 years ago should give us hope.
Just as many in ancient Israel were unaware Immanuel was coming, we are inching ever closer, day-by-day to the second coming of the Messiah.
Advent reminds us that just as God sent Jesus the first time, He will send Him again. On that day, He will come into our mess, our strife, our violence, our injustice, our pain to right all wrongs.
The world, as it was when Jesus was born, is broken, chaotic, unjust, immoral, exploitive, dangerous and frightening. There’s no better time to celebrate Christmas.
The worst time for Advent is always the perfect time for Advent.