Have you ever experienced a miracle? Have you ever been in the middle of something that was totally unexpected and inexplicable? It happened to us recently when, in the deep of winter, we ran out of heating oil and that turned our comfy home upside down and inside out which though uncomfortable, is a good thing! In fact, discomfort and unease is at the core of the Gospel from Luke this Xmas week. After reading today’s scripture, instead of assuming in our post-modern manner, that Jesus’ mother Mary couldn’t possibly have been a virgin or that it is not possible to believe that Jesus was God incarnate, let’s look at it a different way.
Let’s approach the scripture through an Appreciative Inquiry lens. What is really good about this Xmas story, whether or not you believe in the details? Putting aside skepticism, what can we appreciate? Armchair religious experts have long told us that Jesus was probably not born on December 25, right after the longest night of the year. We are also told it is not clear where exactly his baby crib was, and that it does not make any historical sense that he was in Bethlehem because his parents wanted to obey a census. Not logical.
But look at it this way. In New England, the Winter Solstice brings with it ice, snow, cold and ruddy faced conditions. It is a nightmare for those in our community who are without house and home. Beautiful hymns like “In the Bleak Midwinter” were composed around this theme as was the modern pop Christmas favorite “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” These songs would make absolutely no sense to Jesus, Mary & Joseph and so, logic itself has limitations. On the eve of Jesus’ birth, his family was probably dog tired from their immigration to find sanctuary. The climate was neither cold nor hot. The December temperature in Jerusalem is two degrees cooler than Lake City Florida which is just slightly southwest of Jacksonville. So, the average December low temperature in Jerusalem is the equivalent of South Georgia, or North Florida. Not exactly Arctic conditions. Even so, we understand that Jesus was born under less than ideal circumstances and he was not a welcome entity, but that is exactly what makes his refugee origin story so interesting. Who in the world wants to read about a savior who had it all easy, comfy and warm?
People need drama, a little pain and the overcoming of a struggle to make life worthwhile. That’s what all the movies you have ever seen are about. We humans LOVE to overcome adversity! My Father was an adversity expert