Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Absurdity: An Advent Devotional

"We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ...We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day." (1 Corinthians 4:10,13)

What follows is my contribution to Westminster's annual Advent Devotional. Check out more by visiting www.westminsterpc.org:

One of my favorite childhood Christmas traditions, and one Amber and I have continued with our kids, is the sporting of new pajamas. Whether flannel or cotton, holiday patterned or complete with latest cartoon characters, each Christmas we make our way towards the tree dressed colorfully and comfortably. We may even look a little bit ridiculous.

This was especially true the year Amber surprised me with bright red, cotton footie pajamas covered in snowmen and snowflakes. They are awesome. They are hot. They make my kids laugh. They are border-line absurd. But I wear them every Christmas and at the occasional youth ministry pancake dinner, too.

When I read the Jesus story, it always strikes me as a bit ridiculous and absurd. God-in-flesh born to a teenager betrothed to a skeptic. Shepherds and magi as the unlikely first visitors along with the looming threat of genocide by a jealous ruler.

It gets worse.

When the precocious child reaches twelve-years-old, he befuddles his elders in the temple with strange and insightful teachings. Fast forward to Jesus' adult ministry, we encounter fantastic healings, impossible resurrections, subversive confrontations with the powers-that-be, taboo invitations extended to fishermen, women, tax collectors, children, and those with far more questions than answers. Still more, the teachings of this Messiah are riddles and parables that continue to boggle the minds of preachers, practitioners, professors, Sunday school teachers, and pew sitters. The last shall be first and the first shall be last? Blessed are the poor, hungry, peacemakers, persecuted, grieving, and those questing for justice?

I have not even mentioned Jesus' own death on the cross and resurrection from the cold and dark tomb.

It's ridiculous. It's obscure. It's also the the Way of Jesus. And this way, while we may never be able to fully comprehend or make total sense of it, leads to life. This Way also comes with the promise that all things will one day be new and right again.

So now, whenever I put on my Christmas pajamas, I am reminded of Jesus' invitation to join in the absurd movement called the kingdom of God.

And I confess, I kind of like absurdity.

"As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. " (Colossians 3:12-13)

Advent Prayer

God of absurdity, we give you thanks that your way is open to all people. We thank you that nothing and no one is too ridiculous or obscure for your love and promise of redemption. Fill us with your Spirit so we may foolishly follow Jesus even at the risk of reputation and riches. May we dare to hope and dream for the day to come when you will come again to make all things new and right. Amen.

Related Post:

Theology of Pajamas and Breakfast for Dinner #Jesusworefootes (youth ministry and doubt)