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Advent day four: The vulnerability of Jesus

12.6. 2017 Posted By: The Mennonite

Carmen D. Horst loves her church, James Street Mennonite Church, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She knows she couldn’t be their associate pastor without the support of her spiritual director, her friends and family, or her membership to Longwood Gardens, her happy place.

Reflections on Psalm 79, Micah 5:1-5a and Luke 21:34-38.

What drew the crowds back to the temple to hear Jesus morning after morning (Luke 21:34-38)? What did “all that is about to happen” mean to the women and men of Judea, the many who followed Jesus around, who saw bread multiply and some of the sick healed? Did anyone pick up on Jesus’ hints and outright proclamation that he would have to die? Or, perhaps, they were convinced that greater things than they had seen yet would happen before his death.

Even as the crowds gathered, the chief priests and the legal experts were already laying a trap for Jesus. They were planning to surround him, to close on him suddenly, revealed by a kiss.

The people could not envision Jesus on trial. They wanted their hero to succeed. They wanted Jesus to win! Winning meant everyone’s needs would be met, all hungers satisfied, justice for the downtrodden kingdom of Israel and their guy in power to enforce it. They could not see that Jesus’ coming into their world was anything other than their full dream. They fell into the trap that still lures Jesus’ followers today: that putting the best person in charge will solve all the problems.

The Advent of Jesus pierced this earth with another power. Micah 5:2 says the ruler comes from the least significant clan of the smallest city. When Jesus is born, it is to a woman without current royal connections. When Jesus’ birth is announced to this earth, it was to animal watchers, not the army. Vulnerable people crowded around Jesus throughout his ministry. Among other things, they were drawn by the dream of gaining power by associating with Jesus’ power. But Jesus tried to show them that the vulnerable lamb is the One who will sit on the throne.

The Son of Man came to our earth as one of the least of these, so there is no need to fear being vulnerable. Jesus knows our day-to-day anxieties. He knows what weighs us down. He knows how we want to smother our fears and sorrows with Facebook, YouTube, alcohol, or _____. He knows the messiness we love to hide.

I long for a Church that does not fear messiness. I pray for a Church that that bears witness to the Jesus who knows our burdens and shares them. Rather than political power, this is the true power of Christ among us!

As we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth, remember that Jesus will come in the most vulnerable state a human being can be in. Keep watch: how are you hiding your vulnerabilities? Stay alert to all the ways you refuse others the opportunity to be vulnerable with you.

Listen! Be aware! Power and might belong to Jesus, who used it to walk among the poor, to heal sick folks, to bind up all our broken hearts and to face death openly. Praise God!

Read previous Advent reflections and sign up to receive our 2017 daily Advent devotionals in your e-mail inbox. 

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