I can identify with the people of Jesus’ time who were disappointed with how he came. People anticipated a ruler full of power who would defeat their foes and restore justice. At Jesus’ death, his followers were disappointed again. Their hope was nailed to a cross in the most humiliating of deaths.
We want the joy of Christmas day to fix things, and then we look around and the world is still the same. We still have personal darknesses. There is still horrendous violence in the world. There is still unexplained suffering. We still participate in strained relationships. We are still surrounded by political tension.
The darkness in the world, and in our lives, tempts us to believe that Christmas, and Jesus, don’t really matter. That it’s not as real as we’d hoped. This view of reality relegates Christmas to something we do as a matter of tradition one day a year.
But this ignores the Reality of the Christmas story. The reality of how God chose to come into the midst of humanity’s darkness. Jesus came into all of our chaos not as a grown man full of power, brawn, and prestige, but as a baby. A baby who was poor, without a perfect nursery awaiting his arrival. A baby who was helpless, born surrounded by poop within a manger and violence without. A baby who was dependent on a faithful mother and father to feed him, clothe him, teach him, help him grow, and love him.
God came to us not to erase our existence and fix us up into something unrecognizable. God also did not come to fix the world up according to our ideals.
God came to us as a child to teach us how to love. How to love amidst our chaos, our struggle, our insecurity, our dashed hopes, our sorrows, and our imperfections.
Because it is in learning to love that we are not fixed, but healed. That we are transformed. That we begin to experience the lasting hope and happiness that God had planned all along.
“What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1: 3-5)