It’s sunny and 22-degrees in Amarillo as I’m penning this post. That’s a full twenty degrees warmer than it was this time yesterday. Oh, yeah. We haven’t been above the freezing mark in nearly four full days. And it has been an adventure. I got stuck in the snow and ice on the way to work Monday morning going around that uphill curve at Hillside and Criss to I-27. The fire department had to push me out. I wasn’t the only one; there were five or six other cars stuck on that hill and they were in the beginning stages of shutting the street down. But it was still a little embarrassing. Then yesterday morning, the van wouldn’t start. The battery was shot. Thankfully, by the time I had the new battery in hand and was ready to install it, the temperature had warmed up to six degrees. You know what it’s like to be turning a bolt and bang your knuckles against a sharp metal plate in six degrees?
I need some weight in the back of my Ranger. I need a better pair of gloves. And maybe one of those George Costanza gortex coats like Kevin Schaffer wears. I’ll never understand how Greg Dowell walks around in this mess in those topsiders without socks. Or how Mark Love is good with just a T-shirt. It’s supposed to warm into the upper 30s later today. But I feel like this snow and ice is going to be with us through March.
Holy Scripture gives us a beautiful picture of the birth of Jesus. It’s a glorious masterpiece. Breath-taking in detail. Fascinating in theological imagery. One of the many, many things we’re clearly shown in that little stable in Bethlehem is that the good news of salvation from God in Christ is for everybody. Christ Jesus came for everybody. Everybody’s in on this good news.
Look at the manger scene in Scripture. Look at the people in the story. Young and old, rich and poor, male and female, blue collar shepherds and professional scholars, righteous and sinners, Jew and Gentile. God with us means God with all of us!
No exceptions. No fine print. No disclaimers or escape clauses or special qualifications. The angels proclaim that the good news of great joy is for all the people. And the portrait of the stable illustrates it beautifully.
I’ve heard all my life that the ground is level at the cross. Well, the ground is just as level at the manger. In the glory of the nativity, God shows us that we all belong to the same family. We’re all equally lacking and equally blessed. By becoming a human, God draws the entire human family to himself without any distinctions. The good news is that all who are baptized into Jesus are the same. There’s neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free.
God is the God of the universe. But he’s no elitist.
And when we give in to our impulse to avoid uncomfortable people or awkward situations, that’s not Christ-like. The most awkward and uncomfortable birth for the most exalted figure of Jesus Christ shows us and reminds us that the value and importance of life is found in life itself, not in all the things that come with life.
The Gospel is for all. Including the uncomfortable and the awkward. Like you. And me.