This Advent season, we have the opportunity to reflect on this deep and incredible commitment God has made – becoming human. We’ll consider four areas where Christ’s coming creates a new paradigm for the way we live.
Our theme in week one is Vulnerability. Although all power and authority was his, Jesus came to earth as a helpless and dependent baby. The incarnation leads us to be vulnerable, willing to open up our lives, to be honest about our questions, fears, and hopes, and depend on others in our need. We also seek to care for those who are vulnerable.
Becoming vulnerable to meet the vulnerable
When Jesus looked out over crowds of people suffering from ailments both physical and spiritual, it is said that
he had compassion on them, for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
It is natural that he would feel this way, for he was one of them. Despite having all the privilege in the universe, he gave it up and was born a stranger in his homeland. His father was a carpenter displaced from his homeland for work- likely that of building the Roman city of Tiberias in Nazareth. Yet when this migrant worker returned home with his growing family, remarkably, there was no one to take them in. Middle Eastern hospitality culture would dictate that even a very distant relative or family friend would have to host this family lest they do the unthinkable and stay in an inn, which were notorious places known for robbery and violence. Yet not even the inn had room for Jesus to be born, and hence he was likely born in a cave alongside animals that were stabled there. In only a few short years he would become a refugee as well, fleeing local violence to a foreign land.
Jesus came into the world in the most vulnerable circumstances, and he never lost his heart for the vulnerable in society. Lepers, foreigners, sinners, and the poor were his preferred company. He eventually became vulnerable to suffering and death, and in doing so brought salvation to us all.
In our world today it isn’t in vogue to share our weaknesses and failures. In the workplace there is an all-consuming culture of looking “professional” at the expense of authenticity, and church and neighborhood associations can often be about keeping up appearances. Yet it is only in making ourselves vulnerable that we find connection to others, and can grant and receive the compassion that we all need. This advent may we remember to follow our Lord’s example, remembering the most vulnerable in our world, and making ourselves vulnerable that he might use us as instruments of his peace.
Devotion by Brian Indrelie
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