Jesus and his family made it to Egypt without any home there, without any family, without connections, without the right papers or process. But somehow, they were welcomed in by strangers. They had to rely on people of another land, who were not of their own clan or religion or nationality, and for some reason these people of Egypt made a way for them to survive. They welcomed them with hospitality.
This Sunday we get to hear who this message is for. And we find out that this message is for the Simeons and Annas of the world. It is for those who have waited and hoped for something better, something greater than what they know today. It is for those who have been forgotten, overlooked, and ignored. It is for those who have struggled, and hope that their struggle is not in vain. It is for those who still believe that God sees them and knows them and loves them.
Out of all the miraculous and wonderful places in this great, big universe, why did God choose to come down and be with us? The Franciscan priest Richard Rohr answers it this way:
“Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity… Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.”
In Advent, we are called to be witnesses of God’s goodness. We are called to sing out God’s great love in Christ. In this season, we remember that even in such a messy and broken world as ours, God chose to come and live as one of us, to teach us, heal us, save us, and claim us as beloved children. And we remember that Christ is coming again.
One of the most quoted scripture passages are these words in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Christmas is God coming to earth, taking on our very flesh, doing the most crazy thing possible to show us the fullness of God’s love. No other religion or tradition around the world has ever proclaimed a similar story. Because it’s too crazy, too amazing, too unimaginable that the God who created the universe, who made the stars and the planets, who breathed us out of dust, would come and live as one of us.
But here is Jesus saying, the one who created all of this for us, the one who sent his only Son into the world, the one who breathed us into life – doesn’t stay at a distance, doesn’t stay immune and safe from the messiness and troubles of this life.
It is important for us to give thanks and praise on Sunday mornings. But we can’t stop there. Our faith needs to be more than words, more than creeds, more than a ritual we undertake once a week. It needs to be active and life giving. It needs to be sharing and open. It needs to be risk-taking and fearless.
The lamps and oil Jesus speaks about in this parable are not fueled by fear, but by love. By welcome. By knowing the power of grace and the gifts of the Spirit.
The miracles of God may look different today than they did in Joshua’s day. But miracles are still happening in our church and in our world. God is still making a way.