Advent is always such an interesting season. It literally means “the coming or arrival of something or someone that is important.” In this season of Advent, we’re waiting for the coming of Christ. Every time, I celebrate advent, it feels as if I’m literally waiting for the Christ to be born.
This is a strange concept. When Christ was born, it was completely unexpected. People had no idea that this tiny baby would have such an impact on the world. The manger is not only important for its innocence, but also because Jesus may not have survived it. Birth is not an easy process. Imagine: you’re a young, fourteen(ish) year old girl who has to travel home for the holiday season, or rather the government census, and there is no room, anywhere. You are forced to give birth to a child in a manger. There is little hope that this child will survive. The gospels make no mention of a midwife, though we have a hope that there was one. Even before that, Christ’s birth was unexpected. Joseph and Mary were not married but they were betrothed. Mary should not have been pregnant, but she was. Joseph was so shocked, he almost abandoned Mary. Mary wasn’t expecting it. She hadn’t anticipated being married for a little while longer, let alone being pregnant with her first child.
Then there’s the shepherds. You have to feel a little sorry for these guys. They’re off in some field, probably in some mountainous area. They’re just doing their job. They don’t want to be bothered. They’re making sure these sheep don’t get eaten or run off. They had no intention of going anywhere. Then the angels appear. They’re shocked. I can imagine the talk after the host of angels left. “Well, Bob, I mean… They looked like they were serious about this whole Messiah thing. I mean, maybe we should check it out…” They were not expecting to go chase down a Messiah.
Perhaps, the only people who were actually prepared were the “three kings.” These kings, or astrologers, were excited. A king was coming! I mean, thank god! The stars don’t lie. And where do these kings stop first on their journey to find this person of great importance? The only king in the area. King Herod has no idea what they’re talking about, but he knows that his job as governor for the Roman Empire has been threatened. It takes these astrologers a lot of time to finally wander into the house of a common and poor family. This was not expected.
The truth is no one was expecting Christ, not even his own mother. There was probably more fear and disappointment in the air than exultation and thanksgiving. The question posed to God that follows Christ from birth all the way to the cross is, “So, this is the Messiah? This is your messenger? Your savior?” Christ’s birth, life, and death seems cheap compared to the life of someone like Julius Caesar or even a modern day president. Yet, it is Christianity that has survived 2000 years as a religion, not the Roman Empire, not America. It was founded with this “cheap life.” It was an unexpected God that chose to live this life. There was no advent time for Christ in that life time.
So, now we celebrate Advent approximately two thousand years later to celebrate the “cheap” birth of a figure who would go on to save the world as a living sacrifice. God, in the sacrifice of his son, took on a life unworthy of the divine to understand his people, to see through our eyes as human beings, and to save our lives. Advent is the season of waiting in light of our understanding who Christ is. When I celebrate Advent, I am waiting for something important to happen. Advent is a memory of what did not happen but what should have happened at the birth of Christ. It is the season of waiting for someone important, perhaps the most important person in all of human kind.