In a few days, many will gather to welcome members of our families into our homes, travel to be with families, and worship together with families and friends to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the Messiah, who comes to us as a baby born in a manger in faraway Bethlehem - an occupied land - to a simple and poor family. Through this little baby, God chose to reveal the truth of the divine Word. In a little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, reality was created and presented to us as God’s inconvenient truth.
Many years ago, a former Vice President, Al Gore, produced a movie “An Inconvenient Truth”. The movie was about the dangerous effect of global warming on our planet and lives, and the extent to which our activities and lifestyles have - and continue to - contribute to this impending disaster. The movie was a call to arms of sorts, one of “let’s reform our approach towards the manner in which we abuse the planet, to one of tending to it for the sake of succeeding generations”. I did not see the movie… mainly because I am not a movie person, but also because I didn’t really appreciate the apocalyptic undertones. That doesn’t, however, take away the fact that there was a good measure of truth in the claims being made.
Without having the chance to talk to the former vice-president to ascertain from him why he coined it “An Inconvenient Truth”, I think that perhaps his response would have been that not only there is some truth about our contribution towards global warming, but also that this truth is inconvenient to those of us who have not only found comfort in the status quo but are unwilling to consider the possibility of changing course; lest when we do so, we lose our economic and financial edge over others.
God’s inconvenient truth can be assessed with similar lens; God disturbs our comfort, and by his yearly visitation calls upon us to self-reflect and, more importantly, to engage ourselves in walking a new and different path, one that is dissimilar to the one we are so used to.
To me, the inconvenience lies solely in the truth that the birth of the Messiah reveals to us not only God’s innate capacity to take upon God’s self that which is corruptible, but also to divinize or to bring to the fore our innate potential. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us, per se, but there’s a lot that can be said about our lives that will require us to do more with less, hold the hand of the stranger and the other, embrace our need for salvation, and find value in the gifts that others offer to us - whether large or small.
I remember when I was in elementary school, I would often read a remark that teachers would write on my report card, “There’s room for improvement”. I don’t think I was the sole child who received such remarks by their teacher. TheInconvenient Truth embedded in the remark, as I now understand it, is that not only am I failing to maximize my fullest potential but also that I can improve. They were emphasizing the fact that there’s more than enough room for me to improve, if - and only if - I am willing to work harder.
Advent is a season of waiting, of pondering, of anticipating, and of self-reflection. It is also a season of great joy and peace, as well as one full of mystery, intrigue and raw expectation. And it is also a season waiting to birth God’s Inconvenient Truth.
We can make this Christmas a very different Christmas – perhaps a more meaningful Christmas - if we are willing to wrestle with the truth which always upsets the applecart.
I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas,