If you have ever spent time around an infant, you know that they are completely helpless. Besides breathing and crying, they need assistance to do practically anything else.

And yet the Creator of all, God Almighty, enters the world in this way — vulnerable, dependent, and helpless. It’s in this kind of vulnerability that we understand the love and nature of God.

Take a moment to consider how this little baby changes your life, how baby Jesus changes everything.

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While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 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.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

Luke 2:6-14

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“Huh??” That’s the likely reaction of the original hearers of this story. Luke’s story is totally counter-cultural to what folks were expecting. If a new king was to be born, surely it would take place at the palace in Jerusalem. If angels were appearing, surely it would be to the chief priests. But instead the message comes to low-class shepherds, who should go to a barn and look in a feed trough for the new king.

Luke keeps telling stories like this. God uses unexpected places and people. I believe Luke is right, even today. Where is Jesus most likely to show up today? Not at City Hall, the corporate office, or (dare I say it?) even at our churches. Try the city bus stop, the soup kitchen, the homeless shelter. Who hears the angel’s message? Not the executive, the politician, or sometimes even the preacher. It’s the crew collecting garbage, the check-out clerk, the guy sleeping under the bridge. So what’s our job? Go and look for Jesus there, of course!

Bill Buchanan

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God, help us to keep seeing you in the unexpected places and among the least expected people. Amen.

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Now go out into the world knowing that God goes before you, walks beside you, stands behind you, and is at work within you, empowering you to make a difference in the world.

Bill Buchanan

Bill Buchanan is an ordained pastor, Christian educator, and the Executive Director of Asheville Youth Mission and Raleigh Youth Mission. He lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina and loves being a dad to his two teenage kids.

Advent: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Mark Hayes

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