When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter; and our tongue with shouts of joy. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.” (Psalm 126:1-3)
I have never been so thankful for the humor in the stories of Advent: Zechariah and Elizabeth having a baby in their old-age, crazy. Zechariah not believing it would happen and so he is made mute until the birth of his son John, stuff you cannot make up. Joseph and Mary turned away at multiple doors, tragic but to those of us who know the ending this also makes us chuckle. Shepherds being the first to visit the infant Messiah, one more funny twist to the comedy. Who is this God who fills the first few chapters of Luke’s gospel with such a comedic beginning to the good news? The God of Abraham and Sarah, the God of Moses and Miriam, the God of the prophets and judges and the exile. This is a God who we find in unexpected places like a manger and a cross, water, bread, and wine. This is a God whose faithfulness endures even when people have turned their backs and sought other gods. This is a God who, through my 2020 tears and frustration and moments when I was completely overwhelmed, spoke to me through simple note cards from members, songs and hymns I put on repeat, psalms so ancient I sometimes cannot believe how relevant they still are. As we journey to Bethlehem once again, this same God will meet us there—in a story we can hardly believe (I believe it only within the company of so many other saints and sinners who trust its promise) and God will bear the name Immanuel—God with us—once again.
O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; oh, come to us, abide with us, our Lord Immanuel. (v. 3 “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)