Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"He didn't look like a Messiah..."

Curt Cloninger
In my old friend Curt Cloninger's wonderful one man show Witnesses, the first character we meet is the famous/infamous innkeeper of Bethlehem. Curt portrays him some years after the blessed event, explaining how Mary wound up having the baby out back of the inn. He jokes about not knowing that she would "bingo with the baby that night," or he would have given her a room. He speaks of missing marketing opportunities, because had Jesus been born in his inn he could have posted "the Messiah slept here" signs all over the place. But mostly he defends himself. And his primary defense is this: "He didn't look like a Messiah- he looked like a baby!" Had he known who Jesus was, he implies, he would have found a room for Joseph and Mary. Instead, as we know, the Prince of Peace was born in a barn because there was no room in the inn.

Today, as we continue in the season of Advent, I ask this question: Has anything really changed? We still, far too often, claim not to recognize Jesus. We warp his teachings. We don't love like he taught us to love. We hurt people in his name. And at Christmas we are quick to embrace the baby in the manger, but slow to recognize the things he would come to stand for as a man. Peace. Love for everyone. Forgiveness for all. How often, when we come face to face with Jesus in our own lives do we send him out to the barn, declaring that we have no room for his radical teachings and demands on our lifestyles? Just like Ricky Bobby in the movie Talladega Nights, we are much more comfortable with the non-threatening, cute little baby than we are with the One who came to save the world.

My prayer today is that I will remember that while Jesus may have come to us as a baby, he was always the Messiah. Help me be like the shepherds who recognized him that first Christmas and told the world what they had seen. Help me to "go tell it on the mountain" that the Messiah has come and the world will never be the same. He did look like a baby- but that baby would grow up to change the world. That cute little manger that served as a cradle pointed directly to an ugly wooden cross where he would save us all. May we always have room for him in our hearts.

Jesus, the only hope for me is you...and YOU alone!

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