Advent/Christmas is a Season of Surprise. And our God is a surprising God, who delights in acting in unpredictable and sometimes unbelievable ways. To a group of lonely shepherds huddled on a Judean hillside he came with trumpets sounding and glory a’popping with an unexpected invitation to a birthday party for his son. But when the shell-shocked shepherds arrive they find that the Savior is wrapped in diapers. After the angels, it all seemed so ordinary...so innocent...so tame. Not at all what they expected. Yet rather than being put off by this domestic scene they responded by glorifying and praising God for all that he had done. They were able to see through the circumstances. And for them the ordinary was forever transformed. They would never look at a night sky again without wonder. In the gentle breeze they would always hear an angel song. And in the face of every newborn child, they would see the face of God.
What will you see this Christmas? Will the bright lights and the majestic music sway you? Will you be content to bask in last night’s glory huddled on the hillside trying to catch a glimpse of an angel? Will you strain your ears for an angelic chorus or a newborn’s cry? Someone has written: “We have stayed too long on the hillside, busily trying to imitate the glory and the music of angles, instead of following the shepherds to Bethlehem. Not until we approach that humble manger will we see...”
We often talk about the need to put Christ back into Christmas. But if we are willing to look past the twinkling lights, the glittering tinsel and the sweet carols, we will find that Christ never left. God continues to come to those who will look through this season and find the heart of Christmas. He still comes to those with shepherd’s eyes and ears with unexpected invitations to celebrate. For it is not in the glory but in the ordinary that our Savior still chooses to come. The sights and the sounds are just the ribbons and bows...the outer wrapping. The true gift lies within.