Dr. Steve Seamands was a professor I had in college. He tells a story in his book “Give Them Christ” of a 1962 Christmas newspaper story…
In 1962, the Christmas Day edition of the St. Petersburg, Florida, Times had two front pages. “In keeping with Christmas spirit” the editor explained, “only good news will appear on the front page. For a full report on other happenings around the world, see page 3A.”
So true to his promise, the front page had only good news that day. There was a picture of the Pope standing on the balcony blessing those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, a story of a church helping a needy family, another about pilgrims entering the gates of Bethlehem. And best of all, there was a large picture of Santa Claus, stretched out on a patio next to a swimming pool, with his boots off and toes wiggling in the warm Florida sunshine.
The other front page included the real headlines: Cuban freedom fighters retreat; masked gunmen grab $100,000 in Chicago; father and nine children perish in fire; civil war rages in the Congo; government is overthrown in Tunisia. (p. 33-34)
Dr. Seamands goes on to point out that Jesus was not born into a good news; good vibes nor good times kind of world. If you look at Luke 1 and 2 you see rulers who were ruthless and very cruel. King Herod was willing to do whatever was necessary for him to keep his power (Matthew 2:16-18 NRSV). Jesus came into this world to face the world as it was - chaotic and troubling. He did not get a pass on suffering. Remember what is written in the Gospel of John: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (1:14). I truly appreciate that phrase – “lived among us”. The message by Eugene Peterson reads that Jesus “moved into our neighborhood”.
Dr. Seamands writes more about Jesus living among us. He states that; “He was born in a smelly, unsanitary stable, forced to flee as a refugee from his native country, raised in poverty, spurned by the religious establishment, run out of his hometown, misunderstood by his family, betrayed by one of his own disciples and executed as a common criminal. We could go on, but the point is, from the cradle to the cross, for Jesus to live was to suffer”. (p 34-35)
Jesus knew the joy of weddings, and friendships but he also knew the pain of despair and death. Jesus lived among us and knows how we feel. Jesus did not learn this second hand or by distant observance. No! He was among us. He felt the sun on his face, the sand between his toes, and cool water that quenched his thirst.
During this season of Advent may we celebrate Christ coming to live among us! May we turn to Christ to help us celebrate the good things in life and may we also turn to Christ to help us deal with the “not so good” things in life too. Good news, He is living among us now!
Published on Friday, December 7, 2018 @ 8:34 AM EDT