Rethinking the Classic Nativity

12/23/13

When we take away the festal racket of the Advent of Jesus Christ, put down our eggnog, set down our sugar cookies, and peel back the pine-scented veneer of one “holy infant so tender and mild,” we are faced with a very different nativity. A nativity without hand soap or a space heater. Medicate with enough gingerbread or peppermint truffles and you may forget the ugly reality altogether. 

 
Thousands of years of expectation trudged its way “south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, and then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem.” After tramping 90 miles, a very tired, dirty, and pregnant teenage couple found themselves marginalized from society, delivering their firstborn child in some dimly lit shed. No doctor, no pain medication, no epidural. The night our King entered the world was bloody and tear-filled. Mary’s shrill cries pierced a quiet Bethlehem night. It was not a silent night. Not in David’s town. 
 
Jesus had a lot in common with the children you support through COTN
Jesus had a lot in common with the children you support through COTN. Like them, Jesus faced many difficulties as a young child.
 
I think it’s a good year for throwing our classic Claymation nativity mindset back on the potter’s wheel of history and for starting to allow scripture to flavor our advent routine.
 
This is advent: That God gave His Son to become subjected, dejected, and rejected as a human for the sins of humanity. His heart groaned with bittersweet paradox as the Treasure of Heaven met the Tragedy of Earth. It was tenacious and resolute. It was wild and lion-like. It was simple and profound love for humanity that compelled Jesus Christ off His throne and into a manger.
 
In leaving all the divine laurels of Godhood in heaven, He managed in one fell swoop to drag His Kingdom to Earth. The manger-lain, cloth-wrapped, carpenter-raised refugee began walking the streets proclaiming, “The Kingdom of God is here!” - Matthew 4:17. 
 
As I think of the adversity into which Jesus Christ entered that night, I think of the little boys and girls who have come into the care of Children of the Nations. They identify with the birth of Christ in a way that most of us will probably never know. Marginalized. Impoverished. Refugees. Targets of genocide. Subjected to every misery of the Fall. 
 
Through the care of their sponsors and others, the children experience joy
Through the care of their sponsors and others, the children experience the joy that comes from belonging to a family and to God.
 
But as children adopted out of the wreckage of human depravity, how much more can they identify with the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in a way few can fathom! They have experienced the full range of the capacity of the human soul. On the one hand a capacity for the fear and loneliness that comes from belonging to no one, yet on the other a capacity for the most immense joy that comes from belonging both to a family and to God.
 
Into the depravity of mankind’s darkness God unleashed the Light of Heaven. He released His Son and therein His Kingdom. A Kingdom in which Creation belongs to Creator. A Kingdom in which the misery of the Fall has become the glory of Jesus Christ. 
 
He spent His life reversing the Curse of sin and the misery of the Fall, and He bids you and me to join Him in entering the brokenness of humanity to declare with joy the liberating fact that “The Kingdom of God has come!” And I invite you here and now to enter into humanity’s brokenness, to be an agent of the Kingdom by reversing the curse of the Fall in the life of a destitute and orphaned child. Intertwine your life with the life of a child who has yet to hear of the proclamation that rang out that night in David’s town, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy.”