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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Unlikely Places

 I listen and reflect as the pastor's message unfolds. He speaks of stables and shepherds, of angels announcing the arrival of the Messiah, of the good news of peace and great joy coming to a lost and despairing world. 
 As I read the Christmas story once again, it all becomes clear: God enters the places no one wants to go and chooses those whom the world deems lowly as the recipients of His peace and love. He was born in a stable - the last place anyone would choose for a baby to be born, certainly not the birthplace for the King of Kings. His arrival was told to a group of outcast, dirty shepherds - not the first people most in society would think of to be told the glorious news of the Savior's coming. God is not afraid of the humble and unlikely places. He often goes there of His own volition and brings His good news to the unloveable. I look back at my own life and count the many times when He has entered, somewhat unannounced, and brought hope and light into my dark and dirty places. Those areas of my soul where few would choose to come. Those places where even I have hesitated to enter. There have been moments when I have thought, "This pain is too deep; this shame is too great for Him to forgive. Why would he want to come into the hidden hurt, to step in and embrace my darkness as His own?" Those stable places, those tucked away and outcast caverns of the human heart, these are the ones He comes to. Sometimes He arrives a bit unwelcome. But He comes. He comes because He wants to. He comes because this is what his lowly birth was meant for: to identify with "the least of these." Many years later, He would pray,"I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." (Luke 10:21). He would then say to His followers,"…Many prophets and kings have wanted to see what you see but did not see it…" (Luke 10:24).  
 At the time of His birth, the world had no room for Him. The inn was full. So, also, were the hardened hearts of those He was born to save. Little did Bethlehem know that night that the Sovereign Lord was in its midst! Shepherds heard the great news. They tried to wake up the town and share the glad tidings…but none took heed and came to see Him. Only "the least of these" accepted the message and took it to heart. The humble are the ones to whom the kingdom is entrusted. 
 Truly, those who will discover His Christmas miracle will find it in the least likely of all places. The humble places. Go to the stable or the fields where stinking sheep abide, and there, His news of good will is found. There, in the dark and cold places, He comes in peace.