Hope is absurd

Advent 2022: Week One, Day Five

To have hope is to accept the invitation to live in the tension of mystery. Advent is a season, like many seasons within the church calendar, fraught with irony and paradox. And when we anticipate and celebrate the coming of Christmas Day we accept that we are choosing to believe in the absurd.

I am not talking about an old man with a white beard riding a flying sleigh guided by reindeer carrying toys made by elves at the North Pole to be delivered to good boys and girls by sneaking into their homes through their chimneys while they sleep. I’m not talking about devious elves on shelves causing daily household chaos.

It’s much more absurd than that.

We are invited to believe in a story far more ridiculous than Santa Claus, more farfetched than Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. It’s a story that says in the foolishness of God a girl gave birth to a baby in a dirty manger. Our Creator, now made helpless and vulnerable within his own creation, was nurtured by a young, faithful woman of little means. The Prince of Peace, born to a poor couple in a little town on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a city under Roman rule. This is just one sliver of the story, but choose any part of it and its depths and unlikelihoods will confound the world and put our own myths and stories of Christmas past, present, and future to shame.

The Annunciation, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Second Coming — all are tenets of the Christian faith, and all are preposterous in their own ways. The fairy tales we pass onto children about Santa and his elves require imagination, but the story of Jesus — his prophecy, his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection, his coming again — it requires faith. I do not fault those who reject this message on account of logic. God is many things, but logical is not the first attribute that comes to mind. It’s said that God chooses the foolish things of this world to cofound the wise, the weak things to challenge the strong. We lose our lives to save them. This is the mysterious way of God.

Those of us who have accepted the invitation to believe in and live in the tension of the mysterious, those of us who choose hope and joy instead of despair and cynicism, we know that we are part of a long tradition, and we are participants in the outrageous story still being told. We are given the task to embody it ourselves — announcing, incarnating, dying, and resurrecting — while we wait for the second advent in our ridiculous hope.

Published by Andrew

a ragamuffin dad planting some sequoias

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