When I was a boy, I used to play often with a guy who had an older brother. On bad weather days, their mom would give us jigsaw puzzles to put together. We’d work for about 20 minutes (seemed like hours) and then the older brother would pound pieces together, once he even used scissors to “make it fit”. I have not grown up a lot since then.
Lots of things do not fit in this world. We are getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus but things aren’t fitting together. The world is violent: we sing about peace. The world is cruel: we talk about babies. My world sees people I love get denied and hurt: I am supposed to talk about hope.
The next few weeks – Advent – help we begin to reconcile the unfitness of my life with the hope of Jesus.
So this time of year, I am deeply grateful for the witness of two minor biblical characters who certainly didn’t make the scene at Jesus’ birth nor even know what was going on. They only arrive shortly after Jesus’ birth, but they make a remarkable contribution to my faith and to my hope when things don’t fit.
Simeon, an old and devout man, was waiting in the Jerusalem Temple and when Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to be presented in worship, he sings that Jesus will be “light and glory” [Luke 2:32]. Shortly thereafter, an older woman, Anna, also blesses Jesus, the gift for which she has long been waiting. [Luke 2:36-38].
Anna and Simeon are both people who evidently didn’t think that things were right; nothing fit. They were waiting for “the redemption of Jerusalem.” They were not disappointed.
The birth of Jesus – God entering the world in human form – promises that we will not ultimately be disappointed either. Advent – and Jesus’ birth itself – push us beyond the sweetness of a baby’s cry to the profound heart of our faith. We are getting ready to celebrate God choosing to come and live among us, “in the neighborhood” in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of John 1:14.
So . . . when things do not fit: When you want to scream, or get angry like my buddy’s brother did, or give up (like I did when the puzzle pieces wouldn’t fit), or simply give up, remember what does fit. Remember that God chose to fit into our world in the gift of Jesus.
That gives me hope and that is my prayer for you.
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Hello from Harvey – When Nothing Fits
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