What sets Christianity apart from other faith traditions is that God became like us in order to bring us back to God and show us in Jesus what it means to be truly human. If there was ever a politically relevant time we needed to be reminded of what is means to be human, it is now.
There was tremendous upheaval when God broke into our human history, coming to be with us in the form of a vulnerable baby born to a teenage mother in a filthy animal stall. Mary was homeless at the time, traveling with her husband to be taxed by the occupying power, Rome. Their country was occupied and her people oppressed by an imperial leader who was so threatened by the birth of her baby that he murdered countless children in an effort to destroy the Christ child whose kingdom might compete with his. As a result, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus would become refugees, fleeing for their very lives.
Not a far stretch from the upheaval we have in our world today. Advent readies us for the One who comes to show us how different God’s priorities are from the rulers of the world. Choosing to live by God’s priorities can be a threat to those who seek to govern with an authoritarian, us-versus-them, and they-better-look-act-and-have values-like me mentality.
Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation – God with us. I think of the Incarnation as God hitting the streets. Preparing for that is the meaning of Advent. This prep time is our opportunity to reflect and let the intensity of what’s to come sink in because it’s not what we expect!
When God hits the streets, he’s not hitting the Wall Street of first century Palestine! Jesus wasn’t born in the Trump Tower of Bethlehem and the only gold he had was given to him by someone from another religious tradition! No, Jesus was poor and displaced all his life. He had a blue-collar job, and never envied or emulated the rich. His mission was to “the poor” and “the least of these,” – in other words, anyone and everyone on the margins. His closest friends looked like the United Nations of misfits, all but one dying while continuing his mission once he was gone. Not what was expected then and not what is popular today.
This Advent, I’m watching for God in the upheaval. I want to be there in the mix!