So, it’s Advent! And I'm sure I don't have to remind you that Advent is the season of preparing. And I convicted that there must be something to this whole “preparing” thing because if you think about it, Jesus spent about 30 years preparing and then had 3 years of powerful ministry while on earth. So, it kinda makes sense - preparation is vital.
So, I’ve been trying to “prepare” myself this Advent, whatever that means. I wasn't sure, so I went to Scripture. And, I’ve gotten stuck on these two little verses in Luke chapter 2. I thought I was starting there because the beginning of this chapter is all about the birth of Jesus. But there are some things about this passage that have really struck me and I haven’t been able to move on in my “preparing!”
Here's the background; we have all probably heard the story! The Emporer calls for a census and so all the people have to go to their "hometowns." So, Joseph goes to Bethlehem and he takes his pregnant, fiancee with him. While they are there, it comes time for Mary to have her baby. She has the baby (and this is where I am stuck), wraps Jesus in pieces of cloth and lays him in a manger.
Is there anything that strikes you about the passage from Luke 2:1-7?
Here’s what strikes me about it:
First, we know that Mary and Joseph are having this baby in a barn in Bethlehem. What gets me is - the Son of God's first bed is a feeding trough, the place from which dirty animals eat. Quite a curious place for a king if you ask me. But here’s the thing - Jesus never learned to live like a king. He lived like a servant his whole 33 years.
Think about this. This amazing man’s life started in a dirty barn where he was put in a feeing trough and wrapped in pieces of a blanket. It’s gross. And this is Jesus – you know Jesus = God. God can do anything / God is in control. So why choose to be born in a manger?
It’s pretty inspiring to think about the incredible things Jesus then accomplished and went through later in his life. The turning point in human history was born in a barn. This tells me that no matter where we come from or how small and insignificant we feel, we, too, can accomplish amazing things through serving others. And, we should celebrate all of this!
But, it's easy to get self absorbed during this season and lose sight of these things. I know when my mom asked me for my Christmas list, I was like, oh yeah … it’s time to rack up. Then, my refrigerator died. Completely died and I didn’t know it, so I lost pretty much everything except for a small cooler full of freezer stuff that didn’t thaw out. Do you know how hard it is to live without mayonnaise or ice? I’m on day seven – it aint easy! I’m just saying. The experience made me so grateful in a way because I also realized how much I take for granted and how tough it must be not to have everyday necessities. I mean, I have worked on houses on mission trips where there is no toilet or no floor - but there are people who don’t even have water this Christmas.
Americans, it is estimated that we spend about $450 billion dollars on Christmas each year. Did you know that there are people that don’t have water? And to give everyone in the world water / wells would cost only about $10 billion? It really makes you stop and think how backwards we seem to have our priorities.
Several years ago, there were some pastors who had this same thought. They created a group called "Advent Conspiracy." They have four principles by which they suggest folks go during the Advent season to help re-shift this backward priority. They suggest to worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all during Advent. Their vision is overhwleming and amazing! You can view their web-site here: http://www.adventconspiracy.org or watch the video below!