Advent is my favorite liturgical season. I love the anticipation and expectation that a new hope will soon be born into the world. Lord knows, the world needs something.
Long ago, the majority of those living under the rule of the Roman Empire was waiting on a long-awaited Messiah to bring light to their darkness. Life was difficult for most and unbearable for many. The Roman Empire was so harsh and so unjust that people had practically given up on God, asking “Where is God in all of this?”
Almost by necessity, we have cleaned up the story of Jesus’ birth to make it more user-friendly. Life was gritty, and people were held down by the empire’s military and economic power. The Roman government were the gods of the day and went to great lengths to remind people of this supposed truth. They used violence to harm, to control and to spread fear.
As I read the news of what is happening at the San Ysidro border, a border that I have crossed over multiple times, I can’t help but think of the world into which Jesus was born. It is eerily similar. Violence towards others in the form of tear gas sprayed in the direction of those seeking asylum in the United States. Violence in the form of rubber bullets aimed at children. A whole group of God’s children being told they are unequivocally not welcome in this country and not worthy of basic human dignities. We’ve turned a humanitarian crisis into a display of fear and power.
A story that Glennon Doyle told several years ago comes to mind; she was at one of her children’s holiday concerts at school. There is a mom in front of her with a squirming toddler that has come to watch big brother sing. The child is wiggling all over the place and begins screaming. You can tell the mom is frustrated, especially as the people around her begin looking at her and giving her that look that says your child is going to ruin my child’s moment. This is about to turn into a full-on situation. Glennon looks at the mom and says, “Don’t worry about your beautiful baby. Look, they are getting ready to sing again. The music is always louder than the crying.”
The music is always louder than the crying.
Advent prepares us to receive the gift of that truth.
Into the injustice of the Roman Empire, God is present in a baby
Into the injustice at the border, God is present in a baby.
Into your life and mine, God is present in a baby.
A messiah that reminds us that the music is always louder than the crying