Sign-posts point us in the direction we need to go, towards our destination. But sometimes sign-posts get knocked off line, sending us off in the wrong direction.
Jesus’ birth stands as a sign-post; but the post has been knocked askew. Coming to it, we have seen a story of rejection. The stories we tell – and especially the stories we tell over and over – shape us. Coming to a sign-post pointing to rejection again and again, we are shaped to live in the expectation that you will reject Jesus, that I will reject Jesus. The sign-post still points to a destination in which death is not transformed into life, judgement is not transformed into love, hell is not transformed into heaven, and heaven is not transformed into earth.
Yet this is not how the sign-post was erected. Luke tells us a story of welcome and embrace, of God dwelling in the very heart of a family who opened their home, their lives, to him; an account in which all is well, which points to a day when All Shall Be Well. Coming to this sign-post again and again, we are shaped to receive death being transformed into life, judgement being transformed into love, hell being transformed into heaven, and heaven being transformed into earth.
We have read the story of Jesus’ birth as part of John 1:10, 11 – He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. – when we ought to read it as part of John 1:12-14 – But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God…And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.