“I am doing a new thing,” God said. “I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” The weak things of the world will shame the strong. The foolish things of the world will shame the wise. And the King of Heaven will be born in the muck and filth of a stable, attended by goats and jackasses and hardscrabble shepherds. The hope of Christmas is that God has done a new thing—that he has made a home among people who have a hard time feeling at home here themselves.
In the midst of ambition and striving and disappointment and homework and housework, it all seems very unlikely. As Chesterton wrote, “our peace is put in impossible things.” So rather than wrestle with impossibility, we enfeeble our expectations. We reduce Christmas to an experience we can stage-manage, something we can make marvelous for our children, something we can do something about. That sort of Christmas can’t begin to bear the weight of our longings.
Let’s all remind each other of what we often forget: God is forever at work, bringing wild impossibility to bear on the things we struggle to keep under our own control. Here’s to something new, even impossible this season and in the new year.
Jonathan Rogers is the author of The Terrible Speed of Mercy, one of the finest biographies of Flannery O’Connor we’ve ever read. His other books include the Wilderking Trilogy–The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking–as well as The World According to Narnia and a biography of Saint Patrick. He has spent most of his adult life in Nashville, Tennessee, where he and his wife Lou Alice are raising a houseful of robustious children.