The Furman family goes up front to light the Hope candle and Little Bit squirms in her seat beside me.
We read aloud of a baby born, one who had no form or beauty that we should desire Him. One whom men hid their faces from.
He was Despised and Rejected.
“Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?” Isaiah wrote it and I wonder it.
We all stand to sing, us all dressed in our Sunday best, heels and ties and I can almost see it stretched into our faces: We think we would do much better. We would welcome Him and serve Him and celebrate Him. We would honor Him as rightful King. We would not treat our Precious Savior so.
Yet behind our exteriors, I feel the pain of hidden faces, faces turned from deep pain and need. I feel the rejection of one having no form or beauty. I enter the vulnerability of weakness. And aren’t I acquainted with being passed over, of not making the cut?
I glance at Little Bit. She sits there in her black velvet dress, hair flowing and blending and sticking up just a bit with static.
We are like black sheep, I think.
I think of the cardboard box she was found in, the umbilical cord severed and pulsing fresh. Cut off and Despised. Rejected. Passed over.
And it strikes me…what if Jesus always comes just as this? Weak and without beauty?
And why do I tend to look for Him among the stately?
“By oppression and judgement He was taken away,” we read the words, but I can hardly voice them.
This is how we treat Jesus?
“He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.”
“Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.”
And I think He is right here, sitting beside me.
Jesus amongst us.
Doesn’t His name mean God with us and isn’t He close to the brokenhearted and doesn’t He say that when we do something to the least of these, we’ve done it unto Him?
How have I been treating Jesus?
The vulnerable child…the unlovely teenager…the obnoxious family without form or beauty…those with no fancy presentation, no black velvet dresses.
Have I been seeking Him at the Inn when He’s in the stable?
It’s not going to win me popularity or acceptance or an easy life, this seeking Jesus among the beasts and straw and dung. Staying at the Comfort Christian Inn with all its safety and amenities would be so much easier.
But He’s not there.
I see Little Bit coloring in her seat. I see all her un-lovelies, the rejection that has scarred and marked and distorted. And I see Jesus.
I’m like Mary, birthing the Divine in the stench and cold of a barn. There are no fancy fixins…but there is Immanuel. And being given the opportunity to nurture and love the least of these, the weak and unlovely? Well it’s the opportunity to love and serve Jesus Himself.
For this is how He comes.
I set my Bible down and pull Little Bit into my lap. I wrap my arms around her tight and whisper into her hair. “I love you.” I say it fierce. “You are a precious girl and I’m so glad to have you.” She makes a loud, obnoxious noise right there in church and I just squeeze tighter.
I am in the stable and Jesus is among us.
Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
Out of that terrible travail of soul,
he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many “righteous ones,”
as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—
the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,
because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
he took up the cause of all the black sheep.
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