Dr Kate Harrison Brennan launches our Advent series with a reflection on Christ interrupting our world in a beautiful, political and dramatic way.
Jon Owen is an Assistant Pastor with Wayside Chapel, a community providing unconditional love, care and support for people on and around the streets of Kings Cross, Sydney.
Today's reading is Luke 2:1-7
A few years ago when Lisa and I were living in a 2-bedroom flat using our wardrobe as a kids sleeping area, we received a call from the Red Cross urgently asking if we could have couple stay with us for a few weeks over Christmas. They were desperate and had nowhere else to go. It was December 23rd, we were frantic, and almost refused.
There is a lot of pressure to have an ideal Christmas. To be the ideal partner, to have the ideal decorated house, to provide a gourmet meal enjoyed with all the trimmings, to be shared with the perfect family. Under the burden of this myth and in the illusion of creating beauty, there is no room for the unexpected. Deep into Christmas preparations, our house was atrocious and the spare bed, which for once didn't have someone in it, was covered. Conditions were less than ideal.
Sometimes we get so lost in trying to make others' Christmas amazing, that there is no time for actually engaging with them. A great clue that this is happening is when I feel like everyone is getting in my way! I know that comfort, joy and connection are usually available when two people can connect at a snails pace, but who has the time on December 23rd!?
Strangely enough, this season is all about the poor timing and surprises.
Lisa didn't hesitate. “Of course, there's always room here". I wasn't so sure.
We greeted them as they walked up the stairs, "Pleased to meet you" he firmly grasped my hand, "Thank you, my name is Joseph. This is my wife, Mary.” She was heavily pregnant. Seriously. Did I mention that they were seeking asylum in Australia?
It turned out to be our best Christmas ever. Thankfully there was no midnight birth and a few weeks later they welcomed a beautiful girl into the world. They joy we shared with them in that time remains with us to this day. The gift they gave us came wrapped up in inconvenience, but helped steal Christmas back from the anxiety that has taken it over.
Christmas is meant to be about joy showing up where it’s not supposed to. It is about having an open heart ready to respond when an opportunity presents itself. That’s how hope is birthed into the world, through an open heart. Hospitality that is extended through moments that are neither anticipated nor expected are what enables the Christ child to be born into the world, over and over again. This is the hidden joy that comes from pursuing the justice that God desires from all who follow Jesus.
Every morning when we open our doors at the Wayside Chapel we don't quite know what to expect, yet we welcome all who come in, some on the worst days of their lives, not as a problem to be solved but as a person to be met with love. We have learnt that compassion infuses each moment with the possibility that every day can be Christmas.
Daily Reading Luke 2:1-7
The Birth of Jesus
2 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.