“In opting to celebrate His birthday in Bethlehem in such low-key fashion, Jesus revealed himself free from public opinion, from fear of what others might say or think. Jesus is the incarnation of the Father’s freedom. Paradoxically, while the freedom of Jesus is contagious for some, in others it arouses defensiveness. They have set their faces against freedom, against surprise, against novelty.”

Brennan Manning, Lion and Lamb

Maybe it’s why we cheer for the underdog, why we are attracted to humility in others, why we long for simplicity in the midst of this crowded, competitive world. It’s because love came down as an unlikely hero — small, scrawny, helpless, needy. And in coming that way, he declared freedom from the world’s expectations before he could even open his eyes. How can a King be a baby? How can God be a man and God?

Maybe all of life is really about coming back to the stable, learning to believe that because God came as a baby, then the last ones are first, the weak ones are strong, and all of heaven hangs upside down. May we set our face toward the freedom that comes from living like it’s true. May we believe with our lives that all of these things we so desperately seek – worth, attention, love, belonging – are found in Him. And He has come, and we are free.

Merry Christmas, friends. Repeat the sounding joy.