After the excitement and bustle of an early Christmas morning I was tending to my farm chores. As I mucked out the barn before milking the cow I couldn’t help but think about the place that Jesus was born – a place much like our barn with straw and hay and animals around. In much of the art throughout church history Jesus birth was portrayed in extravagant scenes of ornate adoration – but in reality it must of have been somewhat dusty with the smell of livestock in the air. Baby Jesus was placed in a feeding trough as the animals looked on. Angels no doubt gawked in amazement that GOD, the Creator had placed Himself in human flesh. It was the holiest of moments – a contradiction in terms – the birth of GOD? Or rather the birth of a new order of things.
It was the moment at which that ancient promise to Israel became the fulfillment for all nations – of a Messiah to come. This Messiah now here would make all things new. He would reconcile man to GOD. He would reverse our rebellion, our self-worship, our agreement with evil. He would do the impossible. He would take back the keys of death. He would initiate a New Creation – even in the midst of the old – which would one day overtake all. He was finally here. The Messiah. In the weakness of human flesh. Born in a barn. The King of all kings whose eternal government was prophesied by the ancient Hebrew prophets. This is how He would come? This is how GOD would restore all things?
As I mucked out the barn I could imagine Mary and Joseph – exhausted in the straw, no halos, no fanfare. A local midwife most likely at their side. The new baby sleeping -dreaming the dreams of GOD. They were displaced travelers in a busy town. In our day – Mary would have given birth in the back seat of their car, in a parking garage or utility shed. The shepherds could have been cab drivers or homeless people with mangy dogs in tow.
And who would recognize this King? The outcasts, those agrarians, the shepherds. And in time – the Magi, those wise kings from another land, astrologers who did not even worship the GOD of Israel. They were star watchers who listened to the signs that GOD embedded in the heavens – Creation calling out that something big was happening. A celestial convergence – an alignment to announce the breaking in of Heaven to earth.
But who will take Him in? This King of Heaven and earth? Who will percieve His coming? There was no room in the inn. Is there room in our hearts and lives for Him? The glory of Christmas and the glory of Jesus was not one of halos and brilliant lights. Though there was a star and angels who appeared – it was mostly a hidden glory -the rumours of a coming glory. It was a glory with an earthy smell – attended not by saints but by ordinary people caught up in the mysterious purposes of GOD – a plan they did not fully comprehend and yet, like a flood, in faith, were swept along.
Let us also be those who are swept along, in faith, seeking Him and His hidden kingdom, as we await His second advent. As I mucked out the barn this morning I could almost imagine this world to come, like a newborn in the straw, asleep in the stall, dreaming of what is to come, in the dusty early morning light.
From our family to yours, we want to thank all of you – our readers, contributors, new and old friends, local and far-away friends, and all of you who have encouraged us in our journey with Jesus towards His hidden kingdom. May we live together in the light of the rumors of the coming glory.
– shalom! Jason and Pam Fowler and family
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