Hurry. Haste. Anxiety. Fear. These words are synonymous to an American Christmas. Is this really what Christmas is supposed to be about? Is this really the context of which the birth of Jesus is to be celebrated? It could be said that our alacritous pace is generated from the infinite seasonal obligations, wish lists, shopping sprees, and attempts to cram as much into this “joyous” season as possible. We then enter the New Year and celebrate a deliverance from consumer-driven, culturally conditioned angst that has left us tired and worn. Hurry. Haste. Anxiety. Fear. Yes, this was the very context of the first Christmas. However, these experiences were not the byproducts of American, consumer culture; rather, they were the effect of God’s people questing for liberation from the oppression and captivity that had been their storied history, past and present. Egypt. Assyria. Babylon. Rome. Yet God’s people held fast to the story of Moses, their deliverer, the one who parted the seas and led God’s people in mass exodus and into the Promised Land. And they knew God would do this again. Hear the echoes of the exodus in Matthew’s narrative, “‘Get up, take the child [Jesus] and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead’” (2:20). In Jesus a new Moses, a new Deliverer, a New Exodus has come. And this exodus has set the world free from not only Egypt, but from all forms of oppression and captivity. This Christmas may we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear the ways in which Jesus seeks to deliver us from whatever holds us in bondage, even seasonal and consumer angst. Moreover, may we join this Deliverer as participants in this gospel that moves towards the liberation of all people from whatever holds humanity captive, and not only at Christmas.
Advent Psalm: Psalm 33:
"he gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses...our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in him because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you." (Ps.33:7,20-22)
Jesus, you are the world’s Deliverer. Part the seas of our chaos and set us free from whatever holds us captive. Make us a people who quest for the liberation of all people and all of creation as we follow your unfolding story of life and hope. We pray this expectant of the day to come when you will make all things new and right. Amen.