Advent Faith Stories: Christmas Eve 2016
But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. ~ Matthew 24:43
Sometimes scripture creeps me out. Take for example this little zinger of a warning found in Matthew’s Gospel. Holy Violation! Don’t instructions like these invite us beyond our comfortable safe spaces? Cat-burglar Jesus slips past our snoring doggies and alarm systems, tip-toes around our beds and our sleepy heads, in order to yank away our flat screen TVs and precious laptops.
I tend to interpret Jesus’s teaching like these as needed attention-getters. I don’t necessarily think our dear Savior means to strike fear in our hearts, so much as keep us on our toes. Holy Reverence is the gentle twin of Holy Violation. Thus, as the Advent Christ chimes his returning glory in our hearts, Christmas Jesus in the manger caresses our previous misgivings and assures again that “Yes, Jesus Christ is both.” The King of Creation returning again, coming to steal away our burdens – TVs and laptops included – the stuff that weighs us down, that keeps us dull and unwatchful, inattentive to Christ’s work, burdened by our more selfish desires. And he is the sweet saving Child of Promise, coming for the 1st time (again), the Incarnation of God’s grace, mercy, and care. Both – the Christ-Child – eternal and transcendent, immanent and now.
And to this Christ – coming King and Babe in the manger – may we say again, “Come, you Holy Thief, and take away our sins, and steal the stuff that weighs heavy on our lives and in our spirits.”
In these final hours of epic transformation from Cosmic Christ of Advent to gentle Jesus of Christmas, I’m drawn again to the art of Billie Bourgeois. Her work, displayed on our worship guides this past month, entitled “Awaiting,” serves as icon of the season. We may see through her art into images of sacred beauty. Shifting forms and symbolic colors as if to say, “Stay alert. Keep awake therefore.” The Holy Thief, Jesus our Savior, has come to free us from our sin and stuff. And yes, he is coming again in all his brilliant beauty.
Pastor Jay Hogewood, PhD
“Come,” Thou dost say to Angels,
To blessed Spirits, “Come”;
“Come,” to the Lambs of Thine Own flock,
Thy little Ones, “Come home.”
“Come,” from the many-mansioned house
The gracious word is sent,
“Come,” from the ivory palaces
Unto the Penitent.
O Lord, restore us deaf and blind,
Unclose our lips tho’ dumb;
Then say to us, “I come with speed,”
And we will answer, “Come.”
~ Christina Rossetti