Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Misunderstood preparations

Last week Kieon Sharp, 18, of Charleston, West Virginia, applied for a job with a trucking company. On the same day that he filled out the application he saw one of the trucks of the company he hoped to work for parked on the street with the driver sitting inside. He decided to make some preparations for his potential new job by talking to the driver about the day-to-day routine of driving for this company.

Sharp approached the truck and knocked on the driver's window. The driver immediately called the police and Sharp was arrested. You see, Sharp had applied to Brinks Security and he was knocking on the window of one of their armored vehicles parked outside of a bank. The driver thought the young man had a gun and that he was attempting a robbery.

Sharp was held behind bars for several hours before the story was sorted out. The police were apparently impressed with his cooperation. Sharp was offered an application to the city's street department upon his release from jail.

Kieon Sharp was only trying to make preparations for something important in his life, but his preparations were misunderstood. The Advent season is all about making preparations for something important in our lives. We seek to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. If our preparations are in keeping with the character of the arrival of Jesus then they could easily be misunderstood.

Great kings are supposed to arrive amid scenes of glory but Jesus, the King of kings, chose to enter the world in a lowly, even scandalous, way. A teen pregnancy out of wedlock to a peasant girl. A birth in a stable. His first clothes were rags and his first bed was a feed trough. Behold, your Savior.

According to the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:9, Jesus made himself poor in coming to this world. His ambition was not for power and wealth, but for lowliness and poverty. As Mary said, he brought down the powerful and sent the rich away empty while he lifted up the lowly and filled the hungry with good things (Luke 1:51-53).

This whole approach upsets the ways of our world--our culture in particular. If we all operated this way, Black Friday would be a disaster and our economy would be wrecked. If our Advent preparations follow the original Christmas pattern then I can easily see our efforts causing considerable misunderstanding and concern.

But I hope we realize, to slightly paraphrase John's gospel, "the true light, which enlightens everyone, comes to the world" (1:9). And we need to help our world to see the true light. To do that our Advent prepartions must shine the true light on a new and different way--His way. We will be misunderstood ... at least at first. But if we are faithful to the ways of the one whose ambition was for poverty and lowliness then the wonder of the true light will transform our world in glorious ways.

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