I know that may sound a bit odd in the face of our culture’s approach to Christmas. It’s easy to be lulled by the sentimentality of it all, isn’t it? I confess even our own hymnody conspires to tame this feast day into something more palatable and … dare I say … nice. I mean “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie?” Really? I’m not sure that Bethlehem has ever been that peaceful … ever. And “The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes?” No crying? We’d call that a zero on the Apgar score and would start resuscitation! Seriously, those images aren’t helping. Neither are the emotional expectations of the holidays … you know those happy family get togethers that really don’t turn out so great or the longing for an estranged relationship to magically get better and be resolved in some kind of Christmas miracle? Then there’s the cultural pressure to over consume – whether it’s going overboard in buying presents and dreading the credit card bill in January or over eating and drinking and dreading what the scale will tell you in January. Yes, we’ve made Christmas quite something, haven’t we?
But the reality is we come together this night to pay honor to the one who came to wreck all of that. Yes … to wreck everything! This child’s birth was the plan of a subversive God who snuck into the back door of history on a mission to wreck everything. Coming as one of us – vulnerable, poor, and powerless – he came to upend the world as we have constructed it. He came to wreck our selfishness and narcissism so that we might be able to love and know the love of God and of others too. He came to wreck the political systems that choose winners and losers so that all of his children would be included in the kingdom. He came to break down our tendency of tribalism pitting one group against another. Oh yes, we still organize ourselves into tribes – we just call them political parties, faith traditions or denominations now. He came to tell us about a different kind of economy – one based on valuing the eternal rather than things which pass away. He came to break down our ideas of family to embrace a wider vision of God’s family which includes all people … not just the ones like us. Yes … he came to wreck every structure we try to build which put me first at the expense of everyone else. As he would later tell his followers, he came not to be served but to serve … and he calls us to follow in his path.
This is no small thing and for 2000 plus years people have come together to mark the birth of Christ as God’s subversive way of dwelling among us and wrecking everything for the sake of bringing about something greater than we could ask for or imagine – a vision of the kingdom of God unfolding right here in our midst. May this holy child, this holy one man wrecking crew, disrupt your life this season to plant the grace of God in your heart that you may come to know Christ’s love.