“Why Lies He in such Mean Estate, Where Ox and Ass are Feeding?”
As we mentioned at the start of advent, there is a danger in the familiarity we have with the Christmas story. That familiarity causes us to often take the scene for granted, and lose sight of the wonder it brings. In Matthews account, we saw that wonder came through the rekindling and fulfillment of Old Testament expectations. For the second half of Advent though, we shift our attention to Luke, who invokes wonder in us through another means…
In order to fully engage with Luke, we need to make sure our familiarity with the story does not blind us. Luke demonstrates the wonder of this event by presenting us with a picture that is completely unexpected- one that seems good, but is also hard to make sense of. However, we often miss this because the nativity scene seems so normal to us- Our lawn nativities seem so festive and quaint that it’s sometimes hard to even imagine that Jesus would be born in any other way. We start to imagine that Jesus is kind of like those people who have their weddings in barns and go for that farmhouse kind of look.
We often treat God like this though. Too often we are content to let God simply be a distant figure, and we allow our ideas about him that we gained from our culture, or our tradition, or even our preferences, to define and confine who he is. When we do this we make a god in our own image, and we never be ravished by any of the wonder that comes from exploring a God who is unexpected, and infinite, and beyond our comprehension- all things that form a basis for true worship. If we are going to appreciate Luke for the amazing story of who God is, we need to remind ourselves of his glory, and then come and wonder at his humility.
-Isaiah 6:1-7; Luke 2:1-21
-Read and reflect on the passage above. Compare the scene with Luke 2:1-21. How are the depictions of God different? How do you think a Jew would have felt about Luke claiming that the same God of Isaiah 6 was born in human form in an animal stall?