What are you thinking these days, about venturing out into the world? Some of us are staying home as much as possible. Others are out and about, counting on the veracity of those who say that this virus is no big deal. And some people are going out because they must: they’re needed to restock grocery shelves or ring cash registers or diagnose the sick or handle the paperwork to admit more and more COVID-19 patients to the hospital.
How are you feeling about venturing out?
Our world looks less hospitable than it did before, and the coronavirus is not the only reason. Troubling issues roil our world, our nation, and our community. No need to give you a list when you already have the list in your head.
In the midst of all this mess I’m asking this: turn your attention to Christmas. This sad and plagued world is the same world into which God sent his only begotten Son. God looked out on this self-same world and said to himself, “That’s it, I’ve seen enough. I’m going in.”
God’s love, in the person of Jesus Christ, dropped into the middle of the mess that is the world. He embodied the straightened-out world that is to come: God’s kingdom. He embodied God’s love through interactions with the sick and sinful, through unjust persecution by the authorities, through a humiliating execution, all the way through to victory at the end: the triumph of God’s love over cruelty, disease, chaos and grief.
I am not (repeat: not) saying that followers of Jesus should walk out the door into the mess and sacrifice themselves. Jesus had divine authority over all of the anti-divine powers he encountered. But even he didn’t throw himself off the top of the temple to see whether angels would show up and save him.
What I want to say is this: God treasures this world and the people in it, so much that he sent his only Son, not to condemn this world but to save it.
Whether you are called upon, right now, to sit tight and do another jigsaw puzzle or to go out and serve, you need not despair. Humankind cannot create a mess large enough to eclipse God’s love. We have seen in Jesus the length to which God was willing to go to rescue us from the forces that threaten to drag us down, even when those forces come from within ourselves.
Jesus said to his disciples, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Peace despite trouble. Peace in Jesus Christ even in the middle of trouble.
May that be yours.