Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Shouldering the Burden

Every year has its hardships, but 2017 has been especially difficult for so many people. In this Advent season, it's easy to romanticize the Christmas story, to be swept away by the shimmer of tinsel and the harmony of hallelujah choruses. But if we get down to the grit of the stable floor, Jesus entered humanity to address the hardships of this world. Renowned Christian writer, N.T. Wright had some good words to say about this in a Christmas Eve sermon he preached in 2006, called "Emperors and Angels":

Well, you may say, I didn’t expect to be told about empires and money and wars when I came to church tonight. I expected to hear lovely things that would make me feel good inside. But that’s the trouble with how we’ve treated Christmas these many years: we’ve screened out the emperors, and so we’ve missed the point of the angels. The Christmas story, like Isaiah’s prophecy, isn’t about an escape from the real world of politics and economics, of empires and taxes and bloodthirsty wars. It’s about God addressing these problems at last, from within, coming into our world – his world! – and shouldering the burden of authority, coming to deal with the problems of evil, of chaos and violence and oppression in all their horrible forms. And only when we look hard at those promises and come to grips with what they really mean are we able to grasp the real comfort and joy that Christmas does truly provide. Otherwise we are purchasing a spurious private comfort at the inflated cost of allowing the rest of the world to continue in its misery.

 Sometimes the Incarnation is so simple that we mess it up. As C.S. Lewis once said in his book, Miracles, "He [came] down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him." Jesus came to shoulder the burden.

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