An Advent reflection by Pastor Dan Palomino
I meet people of many different backgrounds in my ministry as a hospice chaplain, people from all walks of life — different ethnicities, races, religions, upbringings, jobs, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Some are surrounded by a loving family and some have nobody at all. Some people live in lavish homes while others live in very meager surroundings. It is obvious that life on planet earth is not fair and we don’t all have the same experiences in life. Despite these differences, there is one thing that places us all on an even playing field. We all die.
And, by the same token, we all are born. We may be born into different circumstances and we may even die under different circumstances. But we ALL enter this world and take our exit in the same manner. No matter where we are now or where we come from, we are ALL equal in this way.
Maybe this is one of the reasons why it amazes me that the God and Creator of the universe would choose to do the same. We could never be elevated to the level of God so God chose to lower himself to us, being born of a woman, entering this world in the very same way as you and I. He humbled himself so we can relate to him (Philippians 2:6-8). He did not enter this world in any form of pageantry or regalia. He was born in a stable that was filled with farm animals and reeked of manure. His crib was a feeding trough. When he was older and entered Jerusalem for the last time in his earthly life, he did not choose to enter the city on a steed or stallion but on a little donkey.
Even the family lineage into which he was born had “common” folk as well as people of stature, comprised of men AND women, adulterers, prostitutes, heroes, and Gentiles. While there are kings in the lineage, some were godly and some were evil (Matthew 1:1-16).
And, of course, as a human being just like us, Jesus experienced physical death. The beauty of this is that he rose from the dead. Just as the Lord has taken on the frail form in which we exist, we have now received the gift of resurrection through faith in Jesus and the power of the Spirit. The only difference between us and Jesus is that our resurrection happens on the other side of Heaven rather than this side of Heaven. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrated that we have inherited power over sin and death.
While we celebrate Advent and Christmas this year, may we reflect upon the gift of Jesus and the fact that God would humble himself, putting himself on the same lowly human level in which we exist this side of Heaven, so that he can show us himself and the possibility of life everlasting with him. The fact that he was willing to go through birth just like us so that he could go through the pain of death — just like us AND FOR us — is CRAZY! Who would do that, given the choice? What kind of God would do an amazing and extravagant thing like that?
His name is JESUS.