You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end. – Luke 1:31-33
Devotional contributed by North Central faculty, Desiree Libengood
Consider the coming of Christ
Advent is a time of reflection – a time to slow down, to consider the coming of Christ. In the Jesus narrative, advent is the beginning of the rising action. Until this point, it had all been foreshadowing, prophetic announcements that the coming Messiah. So all the people of God could do before this was speculate about his arrival: surely he would come as a great and noble king or, perhaps, a mighty warrior.
We know, though, that he chose a much more humble path. Fully man and fully divine, Jesus came to earth as a baby, and by taking this lowly path, he made a way for all of us – we who are made in his image – to find redemption. If the virgin birth symbolized Jesus’ divinity, coming as an infant symbolized his full humanity, allowing him to take our place in the climactic moments of crucifixion and resurrection.
The strength of God
This advent, as I have reflected on the birth of Jesus, his infancy has unsettled me. Perhaps it is because only two weeks ago my husband and I adopted a sibling set of three toddlers out of foster care. Ages three, two, and one, our children are entirely dependent on us, but it is not their need that has given me pause. It is my own.
I find that I cannot be everything for these children, cannot fulfill all their needs completely on my own. My maternal frailty has left me exhausted, and I have wondered about a God who would come in such a frail form. Moreover, I’ve been desiring the warrior God, the one who rides in and fights valiantly to make all things right – right now. But that conquering hero god is one of clichéd stories, and our God is not one for formulaic plots.
Our God is the God of the lowly. What I have found is much better than what I desired – I have found a God who came in full frail humanity so that he can meet me in my frailty. He came as a babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
He knows the richness of growth, of facing the trials of life, and he gives us strength to do the same. This strength is divine – from a God who speaks and stormy waters calm, who touches and the sick are healed. He is not a distant god but intimately familiar with humanity, and he created us in his image, fully human but given full access to Divinity. In fact, when I look closely enough, I see signs of divinity daily in the wonders that pervade my life. The fact those three small children belong to us and began calling us mommy and daddy within days of coming to live with us is nothing short of miraculous.
Even more, in the resolution of the story, he is our warrior king, and his kingdom never ends. The trials and the miracles all speak of his glory. In this advent season, may we slow down, be present in the here and now, and allow the stories of our lives to unfold in the same humble manner as our Savior who prepared the way.