By Jessica Wolfe
Deck the halls! Trim the tree! Hang the stockings!
Christmas can bring so much beauty with it. We decorate our trees in silver and gold, tie gifts with pretty bows, and hang up beautiful stockings for Santa to fill with goodies. Our tables are laden with tantalizing treats and carefully coordinated table trimmings. And these are good things. It is good to celebrate with beauty and to rejoice over Jesus’ birth.
But is there more to it than that? Do we drive to the mall to get the latest gift, missing the homeless man rifling through the dumpster? Do we rush to the grocery store for the cranberry sauce, passing the soup kitchen where many line up for a warm meal?
If we get the opulence but not the humanity of the season, we are missing the point. Jesus showed us so much about the poor and marginalized even in the way his birth came about.
Mary was a pregnant teenage. She was ridiculed and scorned. But God’s decision to send Jesus to earth amidst this unlikely scandal gives us a powerful lens for grace and mercy, tenderness and compassion. Jesus was born in a dirty barn with the stench of livestock all about. His crib was a feeding trough. His first audience was not with kings and queens but with humble shepherds. He entered the world in an unassuming manner, surrounded by those who were widely unrecognized in their culture.
And during a season wherein we try to ensure everything is beautiful and perfect, we can easily forget that Jesus came in chaos, with meager circumstances, to people with no social status.
Justice and mercy play a tremendous part in Jesus’ birth story. Jesus came because justice had to be fulfilled. Someone holy and blameless had to take our place on the cross. In an extraordinary act of grace and mercy, Jesus came for us. And just to make sure we didn’t miss those on the fringes, he came through the unknown to those most overlooked.
So who are we overlooking in this season? Who can use the love of Jesus displayed through us? How can we care for the poor and marginalized the way Jesus modeled for us, even as we surround ourselves with beautifully wrapped gifts and sparkling trees? How can we draw them close and give them front row seats to the story of the Savior of the world?
Again, Jesus showed us the answer. In the way he came, in how he lived his life, he showed us how to love. He spent time with the marginalized. He modeled grace and mercy, kindness and compassion. Now we are the ones who must reflect these qualities to the world.
May we not miss the poor and the overlooked. May we see the simplicity of Jesus’ birth, the rawness of it, the loving, inclusive way he arrived. And may we all draw a little closer to him, in the company of our brothers and sisters who need us.
Jessica Wolfe is a coach, writer, producer, wife, and mom. Justice advocate. Iced tea drinker. Avid reader. Part-time cyclist and photographer. Lover of Jesus. Catch Jessica’s sporadic musings at choosinglovenotfear.postach.io.
Photograph by Stephanie Edwards.