Startle me out of my complacency, God, this and every day.
Dec 4 reading from The Daily Feast.
Are we so used to the story of Christmas that we are no longer startled?
Think about young Mary, startled by an angel announcement that changed her life and the lives of everyone who lived after her.
Think about Joseph, startled by a dream that told him what to do about Mary’s unexplained pregnancy.
Think about the shepherds, startled on a hillside by mysterious light and song, so startled that they had to check out the message.
To be startled means we see, understand, touch, or experience something so new and fresh that we step back to take another look, just to make sure.
What is it about the God’s plan for Christmas that we can experience, that has become ho-hum and ordinary?
We need fresh eyes for the Christmas story to startle us. God, original Creator and extraordinary Innovator, found a way to put his eternal DNA into flesh and blood without a laboratory or test tube! God crossed the line between heaven and earth, something no one else has ever been able to do, to come into our world.
And we want to make Christmas special? As if anything we can do with candles and lights and sweet delicacies could be any more special than what God has already done. God made Christmas special. Startlingly special. Exceptionally unique. Irresistibly different.
We are so tangled in our own Christmas notions that we are in danger of missing the startling truth: God of all glory and beginning of all Light, came to us that first Christmas. God sent His whole heart to us in Jesus. To hear any part of the Christmas story and not be startled by its pure originality, its extravagant innovation, its humbling truth is an irony more unbelievable than the story itself.
Tell the story again without any frills or fanfares.
Review how God sent an angel to Mary who was engaged to Joseph to tell her she would bear God’s son. How she accepted the news before it became true.
Remember how God sent a dream to Joseph to tell him not to be afraid of Mary’s pregnancy. Don’t overlook how Joseph obeyed the instruction against everything expected of him.
Reconnect to the part where God sent a whole choir of angels to shepherds with a birth announcement about a baby in a manger. How they checked out the story and lived the rest of their lives knowing it wasn’t a figment of their imagination.
Don’t overlook how God took some eastern readers of the stars and gave them a mystery they had to follow all the way to Bethlehem. How they, Gentiles, worshiped the one who would be King of all.
There is nothing complacent, ordinary, coincidental, or uninteresting about this story. It is startling from the beginning to the end. Don’t miss the inexpressible joy that comes from being startled anew by this world-changing story.
Let God tell His story to your heart and be startled by the deep, unfailing love He planned for you to experience every day of your life. Determine anew to live this startling story as your story with all the obedience, submission, and journeys that it requires.