It's Friday, the 13th day of Advent. We went with some friends to look at some light displays near Milwaukee. There's an entire section of the western part, officially in West Allis, that an entire neighborhood decorated their houses and lawns for Advent. [If you're interested it's an area between 92nd & 96th street and Montana & Oklahoma). They have called it Candy Land and the money raised is for a good cause - The MAC fund.
The drive through Candy Land Neighborhood is fascinating. Most of it is quite inspiring with some amazing light decorations...but as always some of it is quite "cheesy"...even "Messy".
As I looked at the decorations I couldn't help but notice the many different nativity scenes. They all have common elements - the baby Jesus, Mary & Joseph are the minimum. Many have the Shepherds, some the Wise Men (Magi), some have animals, some have combinations of all of these three things.
What is missing from ALL of them is the "Messy".
A lot of the Advent themes emphasize the Vision of all that was beautiful about it - after all, Immanuel means "God is With Us" and it means that the Most High God became a Most Lowly Human!
That is important for us to consider.
Paul summarized it so well in his letter to the Philippians. He wrote to them about the necessity of seeking to be unified around their faith in Christ (something still desperately needed for us today). In the second chapter he writes:
4 Each of
you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of
attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very
nature God, did not consider equality with God something to
but made himself nothing, taking the very
nature of a servant, being made in human
And being found in appearance as a man, he
humbled himself and became obedient to death--
even death on a cross!
Pure and Simple, Jesus traded the Glory of God for the Human Mess. He entered into humanity as a baby, not a King. He entered into humanity as a servant, not as one in charge. He entered in as a normal human baby, not as one in royalty or privilege.
He humbled himself...and He took the Mess of our Sin and through Obedience went to the Cross.
I don't know how you would show that on a lawn decoration, or in a nativity scene. Yet, whenever we see a nativity scene, let's remember - this is Immanuel being born as a baby.