There are times in life where all I want to do is run. But God says be still.
During the holidays there are blaring inconsistencies of peace and war, giving and selfishness, love and loneliness, a St. Nicholas who throws punches, and a child who was born to die. Finding joy and keeping a heart filled with compassion are difficult tasks at times. In the midst of divorce, broken dreams, loneliness, and death it sometimes feels impossible to breath.
GOD OFTEN ASKS THE IMPOSSIBLE. GOD ALSO DELIVERS THE IMPOSSIBLE.
Advent is a season where we hold in tension these inconsistencies. In the midst of the consumerism, the bustle, the parties and celebration of Christmas we have Advent. Advent is about peace. It is about expectant waiting, a mother full of the promise of her first born.
Advent is about hope-filled anticipation and preparation for a Savior who loved us enough to enter our crazy. Advent is about remaining in a God who entered our world, remembering a moment in time where the God of the universe humbled Himself and took on the form of His creation, while at the same time holding in tension the anticipation of His future return. Remembering that one day we will be in His presence.
Advent is about #FindingJoy in the waiting, in the everyday mundane moments. It is a reminder that we have been given an eternal hope and are redeemed.
The peaceful scene of a manger on our mantel is often surrounded by a donkey, sheep, and cows. The friendly beasts stand closer, eye level to the manger as the holy family, wise men, shepherds and angels look down into the manger. A donkey who carried the mother to the stable, the sheep whose night in the field was abruptly interrupted, and the cow who has lost his dinner trough all marvel at the child who has come to save mankind. The scenes on our mantels are both a condensed and elaborated telling of the nativity. They cram three years into one night and add characters creatively placed for dramatic effect.
One character is left out. Herod is missing.
The birth of our Savior, the nativity scene, is filled with joy and pain.
Mattew 2:18, NIV “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
With news from the Magi of a king’s birth Herod felt threatened and ordered the death of every male child 2 and under in and around Bethlehem. Jesus was spared. Joseph was told to run. His neighbors were not.
This broken world was entered by a baby. This baby did not grow into a man immune from tragedy. Jesus lived in an occupied land, and He knew what it was to be misunderstood and rejected by those closest to Him. Jesus wept at the graveside of a friend and prayed on the eve of His crucifixion that the cup of suffering be taken from Him. And yet it wasn’t. But His story … His birth, death, and resurrection ushered in the fulfillment of our hope. The Messiah had come and given us a place at the table.
We are not promised that in this world there will be no pain. We are asked to do the impossible. We are asked to trust a God who asks us to be still, to remain, to hold on to the hope of His coming salvation in the midst of tragedy. In the aftermath of Sandy Hook and San Bernardino we are told to love our neighbor as our self. In a world filled with Herods we are told to not live in fear.
For every Herod there are shepherds who answer the call of angels to sit with a newborn baby and His family. For every Herod there are wise men who search years for truth bearing lavish gifts to bless others with. For every Herod there is a drummer boy using the small talents he has to bring moments of joy. For every Herod there are a multitude of people filling the night skies with joy. Herod is missing because evil does not win.
Advent is a season that comes every year to remind us how we are to live every single day. In the middle of tragedy we give compassion. In the middle of broken hearts and dreams we bring the hope of a better tomorrow. We combat fear with love. We find our joy by remaining in the season of Advent year round.