God is making a grand entrance not in imperial halls, but in a feeding trough for beasts of burden.
S2:E42 EPISODE SUMMARY
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace… for my eyes have seen your salvation.”
Old Simeon says these words when he sees eight-day-old Jesus presented in the temple. He has been waiting to see the hope of the world before he dies… and now he can go in peace. The sign from God that all will be well, that redemption for a hurting and broken world is at hand, has finally come… in the form of a tiny baby.
That’s the wonderfully subversive message of Christmas. God’s redemption for the world doesn’t lie in conquering armies, but in fully sharing our embodied humanity, starting as a completely helpless, vulnerable infant.
It’s amazing to re-read the Christmas story and see anew just how weird it is. In Luke 2, we get an overview of the cosmos. The reign of Emperor Augustus, the governorship of Quirinius… we see big important people in big important places. But then we zoom in on a barn in the middle of nowhere. God is making a grand entrance not in imperial halls, but in a feeding trough for beasts of burden. The first witnesses to the miracle of Christmas are those the world doesn’t usually see: an unwed mother and her faithful fiance, a bunch of farm animals, and some shepherds.
Shepherds weren’t rich or powerful. They spent their nights in the fields, fending off occasional wolves, so they were rough, tough, and probably smelly to boot. And they are called to bear witness to the birth of God in flesh. Picture a gang of bikers showing up in the delivery room. That’s an element of weirdness to this story, and a reminder that God comes first to those we might least expect, with a message of love, healing, and peace.
And this message of love, peace, and hope for the whole world is a baby. God comes not in power and might, but complete and utter vulnerability, depending upon a violent humanity to care for him. As one of our listeners said, “We are drawn, in love, to the most vulnerable,” so God becomes vulnerable so that we can be drawn in love to God. And through the incarnation, through the vulnerability, we can come to recognize the divine spark in one another and be drawn to love each other.
God’s plan to bring out our love for each other was to become Love embodied in fragile flesh. It’s an amazing modeling of love and trust and hope so that the love, trust, and hope within each of us may be catalyzed.
God saves us by placing God’s own self in our hands, and showing us how to Love through loving us. Every newborn child is a magnet for our love and compassion and care. Like Jesus, we are all image-bearers of Love. Like Mary, we are all carriers and bearers of Love. And the hope for the healing of the world, the hope Simeon saw in the infant Jesus… we can see that hope whenever we recognize God within ourselves and one another, as the Incarnation invites us to do.
Take A Breath with Us
Our weekly newsletter creates a space to take a breath. Once we slow down, we can see the way desire, imitation, and conflict operate in our lives and in the world, and begin to create peace. In addition to the newsletter, you will receive the free "Unlearn the Bible" ebook when you subscribe.
Simeon can go in peace, for he has seen the sign of God’s love in the most beautiful and subversive way possible. As we conclude Jesus Unmasked in this, our final episode, we know that we have also seen signs of God’s love through walking this journey with you. Merry Christmas, and God bless you, friends.