Christmas Eve morning, the last day of Advent – Peace and Silent by Lewis Pearson

This is the last day of Advent and our post this morning is a beautiful couple of poems by Lewis Pearson, the Parish Community Worker for St James’ Church in Dorset near the South Coast of England. He lives with my wife Jo and son Matthew. They have just moved here and are seeking to explore new forms of church within the village of Alderholt.


During the advent period we often think about, sing about or receive cards with platitudes about Peace, about Silent Nights. I recently was thinking about this and how actually at this time of year these are often the things furthest from our thinking. I then wrote a couple of poems around these themes.


Peace gives that sense of release,

From all those I’m trying to appease.

Too often so long to Shalom,

But found again in the words of a song.


Searching for wholeness in the wilderness,

Can sometimes feel pointless.

But the whole point, is the less of me point,

The more of you point,

Flowing from the tip of my ball point.


So I’ll meet you again in that place I can be,

The who that you made me,

Not the person I try to be,

Or the one that others see.


So help others to see and for me to be,

The same as you see,

So I can truly be me.



A not so silent night is usual for me,

Books and podcast drown out the noise,

That internal noise, the things on my mind,

The things in my soul.


Approaching silence, scary, intimidating,

Seemingly boring, unproductive, the last thing

I want to do.


Yet once there, I find peace, the solitude speaks,

Yes the mind wanders but the God that I seek

Keeps drawing me back as I wait for Him to speak.



J.R. Woodward – Welcoming the Other In Light of Our Hope

Today’s post comes from JR Woodward,  the co-founder of  Kairos Los Angeles, a network of churches in the LA area.  He also co-founded the Ecclesia Network – a relational network of missional churches – and the Solis Foundation – which gives grants to help start small businesses among the poorest of the poor in Lodwar, Kenya.  He’s finishing his Masters of Art in Global Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary this year.  He compiled and contributed to the book ViralHope and is in process of finishing his next book on the five equippers, title forthcoming.  He loves to surf, watch films, engage in the art of photography, and have a glass of wine with old and new friends.  You can learn more about him here. You will find him blogging here and tweeting here.


Welcoming the Other in Light of Our Hope
One of the practices that I am engaging in to draw near to God in the season of advent is being a person who welcomes the other into my life, in light of our ultimate hope. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

When you think of the God of Hope, what would you say is our ultimate hope as the people of God?

The ultimate hope that is described by Paul earlier in Romans and that he alludes here is the hope in the triune’s God’s ability to bring about the new creation – the redemption of our bodies and the redemption of the world. Instead of a world where creation is being polluted and destroyed because we act as though the resources we consume are infinite and the wastes we deposit are invisible, the creation, which is groaning to be release from the curse, will be released and brought back to its original beauty. Instead of a world where over 30,000 die daily of starvation or preventable diseases it would be a place of abundance for all, because there would be a new relational economy that measures success in terms of gross national affection and global community.  Instead of a place where countries send the young men and women to war, to fight others made in the image of God, and spend billions a day to secure resources so that some can live extravagantly while others go without, it will be a world where nations “will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” it will be a place, as the prophet Isaiah says, where “nations will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”  No more fighting, no more hatred.

Being People of Welcome
One picture of the future we have is that people from every tongue, tribe and nation will be living together with God at the center.  In anticipation of that hope, I seek to welcome people into my life that are different than me.  I often bring one of my international friends with me when I go back home and visit my family, so that I might grow closer to them and they might get a taste of how a typical American family celebrates Christmas.  It is sad to me how many people visiting the states don’t ever get invited into our lives.  Paul encourages us to be welcomers when he says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you.”

We see this whole idea of welcoming in the Godhead, the very first community, where the spirit gives light to all people and where Christ gives his life for a world which is living in contradiction to the Father, and this giving of his life draws all those who believe in him, into the eternal kind of life.

We become welcomer’s when we remember the actions of the Father, Son and Spirit.  The open arms of the Father receiving the prodigal, the outstretched arms of Christ on the cross dying for the godless, and the spirit working in the hearts of God’s people, to accept those that at one time they had a hard time accepting.

This idea of having an inclusive community where anybody could be involved was a tough thing for the disciples to get.  In fact, it took some of them quite a long time before they ever really got it.

An old Jewish joke tells the story of Judgment Day at the end of history.  God summons all the people who have ever lived.  “Here’s what we are going to do,” he explains.  “Gabriel will read out the Ten Commandments, one by one.  As he does, those who have broken them will have to depart into everlasting darkness.”  Commandment number one is read out and a number of people are led off.  The same thing happens with each of the commandments until, having read eight of the ten, only a small crowd remains.  God looks up to see this handful of stern, smug, grim-faced, self-righteous, joyless miseries staring back at him.  He pauses and contemplates the prospect of spending eternity with this lot.  “All right!” he shouts, “Everybody can come back; I’ve changed my mind.”

During the season of Advent, I love to practice hospitality by welcoming the other in light of our hope.

Tom Smith – An Advent Reflection – God is a Jumping God

Today’s post comes from Tom Smith.  Tom loves life and enjoys exploring as much of it as he can. He is sharing life with Lollie, Tayla and Liam as well as friends and family. He is passionate about the kingdom and how it takes expression in South Africa. He works with Oasis in South Africa (


Every morning I have the sacred privilege of taking my children to preschool.  The conversations in the car are varied – depending on our collective mood.  A few days ago we drove to school and Tayla said, “Dad today my heart is full of joy”.  I asked her why and she replied, “Because it is going to be a good day.”

One of their favourite activities in the car is to have the windows down so that the wind can blow through their hair.  They also love it when our two dogs join us for the ride.  Mocha usually sits in the front with me.  She sits upright and looks like a human in the passenger’s seat.  Lillo, like Liam and Tala, loves to position her head for optimal wind absorption.  Her ears flap next to her head as if they are clapping hands.

When the kids and the dogs are in the car we are quite the spectacle and it is fun to see the reaction of fellow motorists, they usually smile. On the way to school we usually pray and the kids have developed a prayer that goes like this (in Afrikaans it rhymes),

God thanks for this great day, wherein we can play and laugh”.

“Here, dankie vir hierdie dag waarin ons kan speel en lag”.

Because of the immense crime problem in South Africa the preschool they attend has a camera at the gate so that the teachers can monitor who is seeking access. This camera has a dual purpose. Not only does it serve as a security measure, it also brings the kids lots of fun.

Over the years the camera has been used as a tool for saying goodbye. The children ask their parents to wave at them. Not so for Liam and Tayla. A wave is not good enough. Over the last few months their instructions on how the wave should be performed have become more ostentatious.

This morning I had to jump from a squatting position and spin in the air as well as use my arms in a chopping motion (per Liam’s request, he calls it “the shark”). The kids show me what to do and then I open and close the gate and stand in the road facing the camera. Then I will do the “moves”, that is what the kids call it.

Last week a pedestrian walked by and watched me do the moves.  She burst out in laughter. To her I was just a weirdo doing “moves” to no one in particular. Over the last few weeks this routine has become very special to me.  Every morning this liturgy reminds me of the love of Our Father.

The Bible gives us multiple pictures of the Father. The one I am reminded of every morning is painted by Zephaniah 3:17,

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. ” (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV)

When I am done with the “moves” in front of the camera I hear a gentle whisper from the Father saying, “Tom I also do moves for you”.

These moves are filled with the soothing (quieting) rhythms of rejoicing, gladness and love.  It is also full of energetic moves of exultation and loud singing and also contains the saving moves of might and salvation.

During this Advent I am thinking about the jumping God in front of the camera.

I am reminded that the One whose “coming(s)” we celebrate is above all a jumping God, full of love and ready to make moves. Soothing, energetic and saving moves.



Ryan Harrison – God Is Near Draw Close

Today’s post comes from Ryan Harrison.  Ryan lives in Denver, Colorado. Her days are filled with teaching, writing, and hopefully, especially in this season, spending time in God’s presence.


Everything I’ve done as this year draws to an end, I’ve done in preparation for a slow, peaceful advent season. It hasn’t worked. I am distracted. My distractions are the brick and mortar kind— the kind that often have human faces (and so, human needs) attached to them. It is an avalanche of to-do lists, holiday parties, meetings, last-minute errands and urgent-need-your-attention-immediately situations that hasn’t stopped. And so, neither have I.


In past years, I would have been disappointed that my distractions kept me from experiencing this season—a time when I’m usually intentional about slowing down and experiencing God. This year, it’s a different story. This year, I am decidedly attached to my distractions; they are safe and familiar. They dull the lacking, the missing, the emptiness that has rooted itself deep into my heart. They mask my world-weariness and my short-comings, my inability to love well.

They keep me far from God.

Accepting that God is near today, in this season of expectant waiting, would demand something of me that I lack the capacity to give.

It would demand that I put away the distractions, that I step into God’s presence and that I begin to hope. To hope that a different world is possible, that my work isn’t in vain, that I won’t always feel the lacking, the missing, the emptiness. To hope above all else that God’s promise of redemption and restoration will continue to trickle down to me, until I see its fullness.

So, today, I’ll lay down my distractions and I’ll refocus on the One whose name is hope. I’ll bundle up and walk in the quiet dawn, too early for distractions, while the cold chaps my face and reminds me of my pain. But the light will come, it will warm my face, and it will remind me to stop, to breathe, to pray.





Tim Morey – Living Between the Times

We are now into the last week of Advent and moving rapidly towards the birth of Christ.  Today’s post comes from Tim Morey.  Tim is the founding and lead pastor of Life Covenant Church in Torrance, CA, the author of Embodying Our Faith(IVP), the husband of Samantha and the father of two little beauties, Abby and Hannah.  He blogs at


I remember my confusion the first time I realized that at places in the Gospels Jesus talks about the kingdom of God as having already arrived, and in other places he speaks of the kingdom as yet to come.  What gives, I thought.  Is the kingdom here now or is it coming later?

The answer to this puzzler, I came to learn, is “yes.”  In Jesus’ birth, the kingdom has broken into human history in a new and significant way.  Yet the kingdom has not yet arrived in all its fullness, and won’t be fully realized until Jesus returns.  As theologians sometimes put it, the kingdom is both already and not yet.  Or to paraphrase N. T. Wright, it’s as if God has taken a page from the end of history and put it in the middle of the story.  The glorious future that awaits us has begun now, and Jesus invites us to participate in the present reality of his kingdom.

Advent places us squarely in the middle of this reality.  In this season we reflect on the first coming of Jesus – his virgin birth, God incarnate, the miracle of God Near Us.  And at the same time we are reminded that the King will return in glory!

So Advent reminds us that we live between these two events, the first and second Advent of Christ.  We live between the times, in the already and not yet of God’s kingdom.  So how do we, as followers of Jesus, live out this reality?  What does it look like to be faithful to living as Advent people?  Three suggestions.

First, we call on Jesus to help us live as whole people.  God is restoring the world to the way it should be, and that includes restoring you and I to the way we should be.  God’s ultimate purpose for us is to fashion us into the likeness of Christ – to bring healing to the places in us that are broken, to bring holiness to places that are sinful, to nurse to health the places that are wounded, to integrate us where we are fragmented.  Advent reminds us that Jesus is making us whole, and invites us to lean into that work.

Second, we call on Jesus to help us live missionally.  We pray with Jesus, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  To pray this is to also ask the question, God how might you use me in answering this prayer?  How does my presence (and your presence in me) in my home, my school, my workplace, my church, my city – contribute to this world looking a bit more like heaven?  We are reminded in Advent that God’s chosen vehicle to bring about the reality of his kingdom is you and I, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Are we living missionally?

Third, we call on Jesus to help us live expectantly.  Christians are people of hope.  No matter what today brings, a Tomorrow is coming when the King will return.  Justice will come.  Mercy will rule.  Righteousness will reign.  Peace will prevail.  Tears will be wiped away, people separated by sin or by death will be reunited, “night” and all it implies will be gone, the sun itself will be superfluous in the overwhelming light that is Jesus.  This year’s Advent may find you in a place of joy or a place of struggle, but it reminds us all that Jesus will come again, that the baby in a manger is also the King of the universe, and that ultimately everything in this world will be as it should be.  Come Lord Jesus . . .



Jesus Is Near How Do We Draw Close – Posts for the 3rd Week of Advent

It is the beginning of the fourth week of Advent and many of us have shifted our focus from Advent to Christmas. Tomorrow I will publish Christmas prayers for the coming week or you may like to check out this prayer from last year.  However those who are still focused on this time of waiting and anticipation may be interested in these reflections from the third week of Advent.

Third Sunday of Advent – Advent Prayers by Christine SIne

Third Monday of Advent – John Van de Laar – The miracle of the mundane

Dave Perry – Barbed and Barbarous

Third Tuesday of Advent – Ryan Marsh – Pain killers and Hope Killers

Idelette McVicker- Joy in the glorious, the ordinary, and the dry

Third Wednesday of Advent –  Ed Cyzewski – The Search for a Meaningful Christmas, Moving Beyond Guilt and Sentiment 

Jude Tiersma Watson – Christmas Joy Voices from the Fuller Community

Third Thursday of Advent – Michelle Wade – Love Joy Peace and Hope

– Jamie Arpin Ricci – An Advent Reflection

Third Friday of Advent – Julie Clawson – Finding Jesus

Third Saturday of Advent – Tracy Dickerson – Along the Way

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Reflection on the Last Week of Advent – Christine Sine

And for those of you who have missed the first couple of weeks of reflections

Posts from the second week of Advent

Second Sunday of Advent: Immanuel God is With Us – Chester Cathedral

O Come O Come Emmanuel – Reflection by John Leech

Second Monday of Advent: Jesus Is Near – by Paula Mitchell

Pat Boone Reads Little Star by Anthony DeStefano

Second Tuesday of Advent: Waiting by Kimberlee Conway Ireton

Shawn Small – The Stone Child

Second Wednesday of Advent: Kristin Tennant – And I Thought My Sofa Was Advent Headquarters

Thomas Grosh – An Advent-ture

Second Thursday of Advent: Liz Dyer – The Gate of Heaven Is Everywhere

Thomas Turner – Let the Season Work on Your Hearts

Second Friday of Advent:  James Prescott – Know The Reality

Tom Sine – Who Is This Jesus That is Close and What is the Kingdom that He Brings

Second Saturday of Advent: Barb Buckham – The Flashmob Advent

And for those that missed last week’s posts

Posts from the First Week of Advent

Sunday: William Kurelek Nativity

Monday: Stan Thornburg – Advent in the Manner of Friends

Monday: Live in Expectation – Tara Malouf

Tuesday: Steve Wickham – Approaching Vanishing Point of Drawing Near

Wednesday: Advent by Phil Cunningham

Thursday: Dave Bayne – Attentive to God’s nearness

Thursday: Jeff Borden – Preparing for Jesus through Remembering, Longing and Preparing

Friday: Kathy Escobar – Making Room for the Unexpected

Friday: Melanie Clark Pullen – Jesus Is Near How Do We Draw Close

Saturday: The End of the First Week of Advent and I Need to Draw Close – Christine Sine


Last Week of Advent

The last Sunday of Advent and as this Advent season draws to a close I find my spirit aching with a deep longing for the coming birth of the Messiah and the world’s rebirth into a Messiah healed world in which the abundance and wholeness of shalom flourishes in all its dimensions.  We have just been to see a performance of Handel’s Messiah which always fills me with both longing and anticipation.

Here in Australia there seems to be much to make my heart ache with that deep longing for a world made new by the healing power of Christ.  After years of devastating drought many farmers were looking forward this year to an abundant harvest only to see it swept away in the flood waters that have inundated vast areas of the country in the last few weeks.  Almost ripe heads of wheat are rotting in the mud.  And on Christmas Island we have watched tragedy unfold as a boat full of refugees was dashed to pieces on the rocks within miles of their hoped for place of asylum.  How many others I wonder never even made it this close to their hoped for refuge and perished in the seas between Indonesia and Australia without anyone knowing?  On a more personal level I ache as I walk with my mother, now 87, still vital and alert but stooped and unsteady on her feet.

During this Advent season I have felt a deep ache and longing in my heart.  Not just a longing for the birth of the child Jesus who would turn the world upside down but a deep longing, an ache within my heart for the rebirth of God’s Messiah healed world in which all will be made new and all of us will be transformed into the children that God intends us to be.  I long for that world in which justice will reign and death and disease and oppression will be no more.  I long for God’s world in which compassion and love and mercy will blossom.

Along the Way – an Advent reflection by Tracy Dickerson

Today’s post comes from Tracy Dickerson.  In fact I have combined two posts from her blog Nacreous Kingdom – the original post that she sent at the beginning of Advent and a link to the video by Lincoln Brewster and Mia Fields  below which she posted last week.  She has posted some other great posts for each of the Sundays of Advent that are well worth a look too


No doubt you’ve heard the euphemism before: “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” My kids used to roll their eyeballs every summer as I would repeat that line as we set off for our annual weeklong get-away at the seashore. Only an hour-and-a-half away by car, the Delaware seashore called to us. The kids couldn’t wait to get to the beach, but I knew a secret that they did not: the vacation began the moment we locked our seatbelts into place…and I was determined to make it so. In the twenty-something years between my growing up and theirs, something had occurred: a super highway had been built that could get you from one end of the state to the other in less than two hours. Gone was the unnecessary and inconvenient meandering trip through the back roads and marshes of Delaware. But as a child, I never considered those rides through the cornfields, saltwater marshes and small towns to be an annoyance or a hindrance. They were part of the journey, part of the scenery… I knew every small town, fruit stand, ramshackle farm and cornfield. I delighted in playing the “alphabet game,” couldn’t wait to stop at the bird sanctuary to see nesting Blue Herons, and savored every moment at the rest stop that had tables at which we enjoyed a languid pre-beach picnic. The sights I saw along the way were sentinels pointing me in the direction of my destination, but they also enhanced the journey. Truth be told, they were some of the most memorable parts of the whole expedition…they in fact, were an inseparable part of the whole vacation. And so, every summer, I would subject my children to this longer, ‘unnecessary’, and ‘inconvenient’ car ride. And every summer-what fun and joy we would encounter along the way

Just as I learned on those summer vacations…drawing close to a destination always involves the process of getting there. So it is during the Advent Season, as we attempt to draw close to Jesus…the joy can be found in the ‘getting there.’

Awhile back, I received a “tweet” from Rick Warren (author of Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church) that said:

“Study the STOPS of Jesus, not just his steps-the interruptions he allowed. Every healing was an interruption! R U flexible?”

Those one-hundred and forty (or less) characters prompted me to think again about a phrase in scripture that I love…If you look at the life of Jesus as depicted in the gospels, an often overlooked phrase crops up fairly frequently: “along the way.” The Gospels are full of occasions in which Jesus and his followers stop “on their way” to their “intended goal” to do important life-affirming things.

We see an incredible example of this in Mark 5 where “on the way” to heal a dying girl, Jesus first heals the Geresene demoniac (of “we are Legion for we are many” fame), and then he also heals a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. In fact, by the time he gets to his “destination,” the ill girl has died. Undaunted, Jesus resurrects her. This story reminds us in a profound way that the ‘bus-stops’ and fellow sojourners that we meet along the way of life are as important as the destination. Through them, we learn the importance of being flexible enough to give these encounters the full attention they deserve. Finally, we see that everything always tends to pan out in the end, even if at first blush it appears that we have arrived “too late” to our destination. 

With this in mind, as we wind our way through the Advent Season, may we make a special effort to be attuned to the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, and be ever alert for “divine appointments” as we seek to draw closer to Jesus. It is my prayer that we keep in mind that the re-discovering of the Christ-child is our ultimate goal…but may we also be ever aware to the possibilities of finding Him in our interactions with the sojourners whom we encounter “along the way.”

Third Friday of Advent – Finding Jesus by Julie Clawson

This reflection comes from Julie Clawson.   Julie is a mom, a writer, and former pastor who lives in Austin, TX with her family.  She is the author of Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices and blogs at


It can be easy to despise Advent.  I don’t mean the period of waiting in hopeful expectation itself, but the actual trappings of the season.  It is easy to despise the commercialism – to condemn the frenzy and the greed and see it as an obstacle to entering into a meaningful discipline if waiting.  It can be easy to despise those that jump straight into Christmas – those that deck the halls in red and green and blast Christmas carols during what should be a time of building expectation.  It is easy to despise those that leave Christ out of Christmas (or to despise those that get offended when Christ gets left out of Christmas).  From tacky decorations, to pushy sales clerks, to religious wars – the hustle and bustle and the secular trappings of the season often stand in the way of our hopeful anticipation of the Christ child.  And so we despise it all, letting Advent become a time of spite and condemnation.

I’m one of the first to question the all consuming ways of empire and consumerism, but I’ve had to humbly realize that all too often I let my animosity towards such things turn my experience of Advent into a twisted period of judgment instead of hope.  And in standing in that judgment I prevented myself from encountering Jesus in the very things I despised.  I found myself hoping to draw near to a Jesus of my own creation – a Jesus that liked the things I like and ran in the same circles as I did.  This was the Jesus I lit the candles for in hopeful expectation during Advent.

But of course, my image of Jesus was a poor reflection of the real Jesus.  Jesus was the one who was out there in the world, hanging out with the uncouth and common members of society.  He was accused of being a drunkard and glutton because he enjoyed being with and feasting with people.  Sure, he delivered challenges to his culture and found moments for retreat, but he didn’t shun it because he despised it for getting in the way of his contemplative spiritual journey.

The Messiah showed up where no one expected him to.  Born to a poor family in the unexpected dinginess of a stable, he subverted all cultural expectations.  I’ve had to learn that my narrow expectations about Jesus do not give me the right to define the modern American secular Christmas as God-forsaken.  Even there – subverting expectations – Jesus is at work.  If I desire to draw near to Christ this Advent, I need to let go of my judgment and condemnation of such places and be willing to see how Jesus appears unexpectedly even there.  My narrow conception of Advent should not lead me to a place of bitterness and hate, but instead allow me to find hope in the redemption of all things wherever it may be occurring.

An Advent Reflection by Jamie Arpin Ricci

This post comes from Jamie Arpin-Ricci is an urban missionary, pastor, church planter and writer living in Winnipeg’s inner city West End neighbourhood. He is planter & pastor of Little Flowers Community, a new missional church plant in the inner city of Winnipeg. Jamie is also forming Chiara House, a new monastic community. He is a third order Franciscan with The Company of Jesus. He made full professional in October 2009. He is founding co-director of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Urban Ministries Winnipeg with his wife Kim.


The Christmas season stirs in us all kinds of sounds, images and memories. For me, one of the longest held is the picture of Sunday School kids in bathrobes with towels on their heads acting out the Christmas story. Angel proclaiming His birth to the shepherds, the wise men presenting their priceless gift and the gentle baby Jesus lying silently in his bed of hay in a quaint and perfect manger. A narrator would read the story out loud from the script as parents and grandparents diligence recorded the whole thing on film and video to be watched again later. Yet one aspect of the story often gets glossed over. Sure, it might get a quick reference in narration, but I have never seen it meaningfully engaged or even remotely attempted to be acted out. Which scene am I referring to? The massacre of the Jewish babies under Herod’s command. Definitely not family friendly!

And yet, Matthew’s Gospel does not shy away from such details. This gruesome details refuses to let us settle comfortably into the nostalgia of the season, confronting us with the brutality of humanity that accompanied the incarnation of God in the birth of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge it, but quickly move past it, for fear it might sully this otherwise joyous story. As I consider the celebrations of the Jewish people to whom Jesus was born I cannot help but notice how they have unwaveringly embraced the suffering and brokenness of their story as essential to their identity. Why then are we so quick to sanitize the story of the Advent of Christ?

Matthew knew that this story would stir in the hearts of his Jewish readers a memory of a similar story in their history: the birth of Moses. Just as the kingship of Jesus, proclaimed by the angels and validated by the Magi, threatened the powers that be, in the same way the Egyptians sought to eliminate the threat of God’s chosen people. And just as Moses rose up to lead his people out of captivity into the Promised Land, so too Jesus would rise up and lead all of creation out of the bondage of sin and death. Just as Moses give up the privilege of his royal Egyptian upbringing, so too did Jesus condescend to take upon Himself humanity for our salvation. And just as the story of Moses is hugely formative to the Old Testament identity of God’s people, so too must we recognize these events at the birth of Christ as even more formative to our identity as His Church.

However, Jesus’ tale differs from Moses’. Moses led the people to the Promised Land where they re-established as a free and independent people, a nation. Yet when Jesus came as the King of Kings, He chose to dis-empower Himself and emerge among the least of these. Where an emperor would have sent his heralds to “proclaim the good tidings of great joy” of his new position of god-king over the empire, Jesus sent His angelic heralds to proclaim it to simple peasant shepherds. While born of the line of David, He was also born through circumstances that cast Him illegitimate, as virtually unclean among His people. And where Moses led his people into the liberty from pagan Egypt of the Promised Land where they established as a nation, Jesus fled His own people and land to seek refuge in Egypt, a foreshadow of universality of His salvation for all nations.

So while we must certainly celebrate the joyous season of Advent, we must learn to live in the tension that the coming of Christ was such a threat to the powers that be that it was inaugurated in the shed blood of innocent children. We must always temper our celebration with the mournful and cautious conviction that as Christ truly incarnates through us, His Body, His Church, we will pose an equal threat to the powers that be. And like Jesus, instead of seeking to sidle up to those powers to curry favour, instead we must follow Christ as He proclaims Himself to the least of these, the poor, the simple and the broken. Through this foolish and weak community, the wise and the powerful will be confounded as His kingdom breaks forth in our hearts and in our lives.