I love epic stories. You know the kind. There’s a terrible danger, the world is threatened, but a hero comes in an unexpected fashion. The hero survives dangers and threats and then in some surprising way saves everything. It’s Frodo, a tiny hobbit, a Halfling, who saves Middle Earth. Oz is saved from the tyranny of the Wicked Witch by Dorothy, a mere girl. Luke eventually saves the world and his long lost father, Anakin Skywalker with it. Part of the reason I love epic stories is I think they are true. I think they resonate with us because we know this is the way things really are. There is a danger. The world is at risk. There is a hero who arrived in an unexpected fashion and who saves the world in a surprising way. This is the story of Christmas, and of Jesus.
He arrived into the world unusually, born of a virgin, yet usually, born of a woman. The only people who seemed to know he was coming, or had come, were strangers from the far away East. His own people, including Herod their “king”, were unaware of his coming. The only fanfare announcing his birth was given to shepherds, people considered to be so low they weren’t even allowed to give testimony in court. The Son of God, Philippians says, humbled himself. With this entrance he was truly beginning at the very bottom.
There were dangers, too. Frederick Buechner memorably describes Gabriel’s announcement to Mary. Then the angel says, “You mustn’t be afraid, Mary….As he said it, he only hopes she wouldn’t notice that beneath the great golden wings he himself was trembling with fear to think that the whole future of creation hung now on the answer of a girl.” Not only that, Revelation 12 tells us that at the birth of the Savior a great red dragon awaited to devour the child the moment it was born. Remember Herod and the hideous murders of Bethlehem’s innocents?
And yet, in true hero fashion, the True Hero accomplished his mission. He is accomplishing it still. When finished we will hear what Revelation 22:3 says, “There shall not be any more curse.” Not a trace of it. The people of God will stand, redeemed and well, in an also redeemed and well world in which heaven and earth have been brought together. My favorite lines of any hymn speak of that. “No more let sin nor sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings known far as the curse is found (and then it bears repeating), far as the curse is found, far as, far as, the curse is found.” Amen.
It’s Advent. Let’s get ready. And then lets turn ourselves loose in worship and service to join Jesus in making his blessings known that far.