Advent Calendar Door #13 – Jesus is…in the dirt

Posted: December 13, 2015 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

Today’s reflection is the text from my mini-sermon at Left Bank’s Nine Lessons and Carols Service.

Someone once asked me what I love most about God. I’d not really thought about it before, but I knew the answer straightaway. His presence. The fact that he shows up in the dirt and the mess of our lives.

If someone asked me what I love most about Christmas, I would probably say the same thing. Because above all else, the story that that the nine lessons tell is the story of God’s presence. It is the story of him showing up.

The reading from Genesis tells us where things start to go wrong, with a betrayal of trust and a shirking of responsibility. The readings from the prophets give us hope that there will be way out and a way back, that someone is coming who will bring light into our darkness. And the readings from the gospels tell us that the answer to all our questions has already come, in the form of a tiny baby born two thousand years ago.

But how could this tiny baby possibly be the answer to the mess of millennia? Isaiah 7:14 says that the virgin will have a child and will call him Emmanuel, which means God with us. Of course when the child actually arrived she called him Jesus, which means God saves. But that new name only highlights a different aspect of who he is and why he came, it doesn’t deny the first. Jesus is the answer because he is Emmanuel, he is God with us.

That doesn’t mean that he is an easy answer or that he offers us a simple way. And it doesn’t mean that he is where there are answers and not where there are none. Jesus as Emmanuel means that God is present and he is working, at all time and in all places.

Jesus was born into the dirt of an animal shelter and the mess of a family who would have been ostracised by society and who were soon to be refugees. I don’t believe that happened by accident. God was sending a message about who and where he is.

And he is still sending that message. He is still in the dirt and the mess of our broken and hurting lives. God has not abandoned the displaced or the excluded or the oppressed or the downtrodden. He has been one of them and he is still with them.

Jesus came to speak truth into our lies and peace into our wars and love into our hate, and so we can cling to the hope that one day he will make all things new, but sometimes before that happens he must sit with us in the dirt and walk with us through the mess, and so we can also cling to the truth that through it all God is with us.

Christmas is many things, but above all else it is a picture of God in the dirt and the mess, and a reminder that Jesus is Emmanuel, at all time and in all places.


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