The Joy of Advent

JOY.

He’s here.
Oh, Joseph, just look at him.
My heart is bursting,
overflowing with love
and joy.

Shhh, do you hear it?
Listen, beloved.
They are singing
just beyond the hills
where the shepherds sleep.

The song is new.
Harmonies so perfect 
I sigh a smile
and the baby 
opens his eyes.

So tiny, yet ancient.
My mind cannot grasp
who I hold in my arms
yet I know I am in the middle
of history, HIS story.

Oh God, I am not worthy 
yet here I rest
agains the fragrant hay
with Heaven-song all around
and your Son gazing into my eyes.

Take my hand, Joseph,
see the love I hold for 
you, so brave 
to take this on.
This burden of grace.

Look upon the face 
of God,
this beautiful son of ours
who nurses peacefully 
as the melodies fade.

When I pause, truly pause, to enter into the moment of Jesus’ birth I become breathless.

Mary, full of grace, so young and innocent gave birth to God. Then, she held Him. She nursed him, the Ancient of Days, at her human breast. He who is in need of nothing, chose to be hungry. He who had existed from eternity past, was born in the night…unseen and unknown except by his mother and earthly father…

and the angels.

I imagine the light that must have shone upon the sleeping shepherds. I traveled to Ethiopia years ago and saw them, men standing watch on the hills among the rocks and thistles as their sheep grazed in peace. Quiet men–tall, dignified in their posture, and wordless–who lived a plain and destitute life. Men who were largely ignored, deemed lower in status, uneducated…

simple.

And it is to the quiet, simple ones the angels came. It is to the lowest of the low that Jesus made himself known. They were the first to find him, the first to bow before the King of Glory, the first to worship in quiet awe as the baby slept in the manger.

Isn’t this like our God? He, who calls himself Father to the fatherless, seeker of the lost? He who leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one? To go after you, who keeps running away? He who left the glory of Heaven to enter in to our story because we had failed and would continue to fail and he just could not sit back and let us stay lost?

He just could not sit back.

This God who wrapped himself in flesh came because his love is bigger than my sin. His love is greater than the demons who run rampant through the earth. He rescues and delivers, he pursues and holds us fast if we will only surrender.

To surrender is the key. It’s not just head knowledge or assent. It is placing yourself in His hands, saying, “My life is yours, may it be done to me as you wish,” just like Mary. And in that surrender lies salvation. In that place of obedience we find rest.

Like he did with the shepherds, He comes to interrupt our life. He opens up the skies with blazing light, declaring He has come and we have a choice. We can either look down at the thorns and thistles at our feet, or we can look up, take those first steps of faith, and behold the Lamb of God who takes away our sins.

What do you choose?

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