Tuesday, December 17, 2013

And Yet - Thoughts on Advent

It makes me sad, when we do that thing that we are so good at. We protect the status quo. We immediately defend. We build our trenches and bring our weapons up to attention. We are ready to do battle against anything that might question, push, or second guess all that we hold dear.

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I sat in that auditorium, listening to the sermon. He spoke about the Shepherds. How they were outcasts. Ceremonially unclean. Unable to give testimony in court. Yet the angels heralded the Christ Child’s birth to them. No one would believe them. They couldn’t enter the temple but they were allowed to worship at the feet of God incarnate.

And yet.

I thought about Jesus. How years later He would hold children in His lap. He would look into their eyes and then tell us that if we wanted in on this Kingdom of His that we would have to be like them. A child. Powerless. Not given full standing in society. Be like them.

And yet.

When the world was hopeless, when weeping had replaced joy and life was laying shattered on the ground He came back. Pushing through. Changing things forever. Turning the whole thing on its head. And He showed Himself for the first time as the resurrected Savior to women. Women. And they couldn’t give testimony in court. And they were second class citizens.

And yet.

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I have grown up in a culture, in a society that has kept its fences so tightly guarded. And we look out, scanning the perimeters to make sure that no one is sneaking in. There is a small gate that is guarded. You can (maybe) enter there if you do what we say, what we believe, what our understanding has always been. I think we are scared. It’s not supposed to look like this.

And yet.

And yet as I read Scripture, as I walk with Jesus, I see something new. I see something old.

I see a God who has taken the unlikely, the marginalized, the unclean, the Samaritan, the Jew, rich and poor, the Gentile, male and female, child and adult. He has taken them by the hand and said, “Hold on.” He has held them tight as He jumped over the fence that we’ve made and with His strength and grace He has taken them, He has taken us, to the safety and center of His pasture.   And we are still on the outside, looking out, scared, defensive. But He’s with us. Right here in the center. And He’s bringing folks with Him and we are too blind to see it.

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We fight for our doctrine and theology. And while doctrine and theology are good, they aren’t God. And if we spend all our time fighting and fearful we don’t have room for Him.

There is room. He is clearing a path. He’s making a way. And I am left with two choices. I can stand near the fence or I can run wild to the middle where it is messy and muddy. The middle where I’m not always comfortable. But Jesus is there. I can trust Him to sort it out. I don’t have to. I just want to stay in the center where there is love and grace, because when I’m there I can feel the shift. I can feel the Kingdom tremble and turn and I start to see.

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Let’s start being ready for the extraordinary. The miraculous. The unexpected.

The entirety of Jesus time on earth was spent with the less than, changing everything, and here we are 2000 years later and we stuff this big, crazy God in a box of our own making. We have birthed a theology that says how He moves, how He acts, and who He loves. I want my wild God back. The one who dares to pick the outcast and show them honor. I want to serve the God of Scripture – the one who says the first will be last and the last will be first. I want to blow the lid off my ideas, my misconceptions, my beliefs based in tradition but not on reality.

Reality is wilder than I’ve been led to believe.

I don’t want the static I want the ever moving.