This year during homeschool, we’ve been studying about the Roman Empire for our history and the early church, particularly the book of Acts, for our Bible time. I have to admit, as usual, I’ve been learning right along with the kids. As we head into the Christmas season, this new information has given me a different perspective on the Christmas story and how people responded to Jesus. I’m seeing the Christmas story in a completely different context. I’ve always felt bad for Mary having to make that trek while being pregnant but that was about the extent of my realization of just how hard their lives were during this time. The Jewish nation had once again found themselves under the rule and control of a group that they despised. And the Romans didn’t particularly like them either. Talk about political strife and leaders with super-inflated egos! It almost makes our past election season seem tame. There was unrest, there were rebellions, there was a whole lot of hatred, and there was discord.
And it was at this hectic time in history that God chose to reveal Himself through His Son. Why? It’s really made me stop and think about God’s timing and His perfect plan. It almost never lines up perfectly with our own plans, right? But Jesus showed up anyway! It reminds me of something that I firmly believe: God always shows up, even in our biggest messes. God shined His greatest spotlight on such dark times — it amazes me and fills me with a renewed sense of appreciation of what it meant back then and what it continue to means for us today.
Yet, so many people missed it. I can barely fathom it. How could they have missed it? Well, maybe because it wasn’t much of a spotlight at all. His arrival was hushed, quiet, happening in the fringes of the world. Did He only come to the lowly shepherds and heathen wise men or were they the only ones that were willing to see and hope? It seems so many other people in the story were blinded by their own expectations that it hardened their hearts to the truth. They wanted sweeping changes, they cared about politics and power, and they wanted independence and strength. Instead God came to us in the smallest possible way. Not high, but low. Not as the king, but as the oppressed. Not rich, but poor.
So, as I ponder this new revelation, I’m wondering this holiday who am I in the Christmas story? Am I weighed down and blinded by my own expectations? Will I be humble and open to Him and His ways? I don’t want to be waiting for fireworks when Jesus might come as a simple twinkling light on the Christmas tree.
My Advent devotion, “Watch for the Light,” describes the angels who “Quiet, inconspicuous, they come into rooms and before hearts as they did then. Quietly they bring God’s questions and proclaim to us the wonders of God, for whom nothing is impossible.”
Those angels are still at work in the world today. All I know is that I don’t want to miss it – miss Jesus – this holiday season.