The time of waiting is almost over. The days, hours, and minutes have been trickling down for the past few weeks. We have been waiting in eager anticipation for the coming King. We’ve been waiting for the story of the virgin birth, the travel to Bethlehem, the stable and the manger, the shepherds in the field and the visit of the Magi. We’ve been waiting for the angels to proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace upon those who find favor with God.” We’ve been waiting, in the midst of tragedy and triumph, grief and joy, and the time is almost here.
Now, we arrive at the last few hours before Christmas with a time to relax and reflect. The frantic nature of the mad dash to Christmas is almost over. Work parties and school programs are finished. Tests and assignments are completed. Minus a last minute gift here or there, shopping is done. It’s time to spend time with family and reflect on the birth of Jesus.
The narrative has been floating around in the back of our consciousness for the last few weeks as we’ve been preparing for this moment. The familiar story of the long and strenuous travel to Bethlehem, the searching and frustration finding a place to stay, the hiding of the baby from a jealous king, and the announcement of the angels in chorus. The story is beautiful in its simplicity; providing us the nostalgic feeling we need, and grounding us in the protection of childhood.
However, while the story is simple, it is also disruptive. It’s not just the story of an innocent boy being born. It’s the story of God breaking into history and turning everything upside. It’s the story of the Kingdom come to Earth that unseats all rival kings and authorities.
This is not just an innocent birth in the countryside, because Luke reminds us who is in charge. Caesar Augustus is on the throne, the adopted son of Julius Caesar, and no ordinary world leader. Augustus is the one poets and historians praised, thanking god that he was born. Augustus was declared in some inscriptions to be son of a god, lord, and savior of the world. Augustus heralded in the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome, an age of expanded luxury. He was more than just an emperor, he was worshiped and praised as the one who controlled the world.
Yet Luke challenges us to believe that the world is changed not when Augustus was born, or even when he came to power, but in a tiny village six miles from Jerusalem when an unwed teenage mother gives birth to her firstborn son and names him Jesus, God saves. Angels announce his birth from the sky. Shepherds, who represent both David the shepherd who becomes king, as well as the lowly who are welcomed into the kingdom, find the baby and become the first to worship the new born king. While most of the world believes Augusts is supreme, it is Jesus who is declared Savior, Christ, Lord, and the one who brings peace.
The tiny child changes everything. Luke challenges us to not get lost in the simplicity, but to embrace the life changing message for our lives and our world. Often, we look to politics, business, the economy, or military might to fix the wrongs of the world. We expect powerful figures of society to set the world right. But Luke challenges us to imagine change coming from a different place, and to place our trust not in the wisdom of the world, but the foolishness of God. For this is not just a normal birth, this is the Savior of the world who will restore all things and right all wrongs, ushering in God’s good future, the new Heavens and new Earth.
We have been waiting in eager anticipation for the arrival of the King for some time, and the wait is almost over. Not for the birth of Jesus, that already happened. No, we wait for the arrival of the King, and the apostles in various epistles remind us, it won’t be long. The day is coming, when every knee will bow, in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. What type of people then should we be as we are waiting for and hastening the coming day of the Lord? We are to live lives of holiness and godliness. Love our neighbors. Care for the poor. Offer hospitality. Bandage the wounds of the sick. Grieve with those who mourn. Embody the image of God on Earth.
For the arrival of the King is coming. It won’t be long now. The wait is almost over. Come, Lord Jesus, come.