There’s a line in the song Hallelu by the band The Devil Makes Three:
“Hallelu, Hallelu / Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition too / They say Jesus is coming, He must be walking – He sure ain’t running/ Who can blame him? Look how we done him! / Hallelu”
Advent is the time of waiting for the birth of Christ. Or maybe it’s just a time of waiting because the anticipation of the “thing” is better than the actual. In the case of Jesus, do we really want the baby, the vulnerable, the table-turning prophet that suffered and died? I mean, “look how we done him.” We, like the disciples, really want the conquering king, the one to overthrow our oppressors. All I want for Christmas is: an end to gun violence, an end to systemic racism, poverty to be wiped out, peace in the world…is that too much to ask…well, Jesus, is it? Jesus is the fix, Jesus becomes a commodity.
But Jesus was born. A baby, needing the tender care and love that only human relationship can provide. Jesus’ life and ministry is a relational one. God is in the business of relationship. This isn’t a quid pro quo. Perhaps this time of waiting, and all the anticipation for Christmas day, is a time of preparation as well. A preparation of self. See, I think Jesus wants the same thing as me. In fact, isn’t that why Jesus was born in the first place? Freeing us from all that fear of sin and death, freeing us to do Christ’s work in the world. If Jesus is only the conquering king, I will forever be disappointed. However, if I accept and live into Jesus as the Messiah, Emmanuel (God with us), then I am freed and empowered to reflect Christ’s radical love. Of course, this requires my participation…not for salvation’s sake, but as a faithful response. Look what Christ has done for us…Hallelu!