Hope in the Infant King
Whew, what a year! We couldn’t wait to get past the election and all of its stress and strife. Maybe the holidays will be better, we thought. Maybe people will be nicer, we hoped.
Do we really need another Christmas? That’s the question posed by Christian author Max Lucado.
“We sing the same songs, put up the same tree, and shop for the same socks and sweaters every year. Is the message of peace on earth, good will toward men still relevant? Still possible?” he writes.
In all likelihood, Hollywood would recast the story, and a civilized person would sanitize it. No person, however poor, should be born in a cow stall. Hay on the floor. Animals on the hay. Don’t place the baby in a feed trough; the donkey’s nose has been there. Don’t wrap the newborn in rags. They smell like sheep.
A good public relations firm would move the birth to a big city. See what Roman palaces they might rent, what Greek villas they could lease. The Son of God deserves a royal entry. Less peasant, more pizzazz. Out with the heads of sheep, in with the heads of state. Shouldn’t we ticker tape this event? Maybe throw in a little Trump Tower escalator entrance.
“But we didn’t design the hour,” Mr. Lucado writes. “God did. And God was content to enter the world in the presence of sleepy sheep and a wide-eyed carpenter. No spotlights, just candlelight. No crowns, just cows chewing cud.”
Is this a mistake? Or is this the message?
It can be argued that the world today resembles a Bethlehem stable. Crude in some spots, smelly in others. Not much glamour.
But the moment Mary touched God’s face is the moment God made his case: there is no place he will not go. If he is willing to be born in a barnyard, then expect him to be at work anywhere — bars, bedrooms and boardrooms. No place is too common. No person is too hardened. No distance is too far. There is no person he cannot reach. There is no limit to his love. When Christ was born, so was our hope.
So, as Mr. Lucado suggests, perhaps Christmas is needed more than ever.
“We could use a season that is dedicated to giving, not receiving; to caring, not critiquing. Put away our differences. Put up the Christmas tree. Take comfort in the familiar story and the ancient carols. Our world, like that of Bethlehem, is difficult and crowded. Our days can feel as cold and uncertain as that midnight manger. Yet, in the midst of it all, let’s do what Mary did. Let’s invite the source of peace to enter our world. Let’s find hope, once more, in the infant King.”