Well, I heard or said it more than once, “That’s the last straw!” You know, just another version of “I can’t take any more!” As in, anymore of you, it, them or myself. Life has a way of piling on sometimes and for some this is the season when wants, wishes and needs become final straws. Hope wanes and reality slaps us upside the head. The reality of loneliness, fear, chronic pain, disappointment, hunger, deadlines and fatigue accumulate until one final straw “breaks the camel’s back.” Theirs. Yours. Mine.
Well, Jesus came into such a world of camels, straw and all the rest of it. And who but God, the One who gets it and us, would risk coming as a baby, instead of a king. Well, for starters, while we may be fascinated with royalty through watching The Crown, meeting a royal’s formidable, if one’s even invited and passes background checks. So part of me gets the baby part.
But if you need a shot of hope, look who God invited first. Shepherds. Outcasts, unwelcome at church/temple. They reeked of life, and the sheep they tended. God knew them and God knows us. No need for background checks. Imagine how they felt when they heard Jesus is called the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God.
The angels sang good news into their dark night and invited them to come and see. And the shepherds accepted the invitation, odd as it was but then, they weren’t used to getting invited anywhere. So they ran to Bethlehem, no time to clean up their acts or themselves.
And they showed up just as they were, and so can we. And they found, as will we, a place where all our last straws belong, in a stable. We sing it at Christmas, “Away in a manger… the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”
All our last straws.
A bed for Hope.
A place where mercy, forgiveness, belonging and joy await them.
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