The Glory and the Grime

The Glory and the Grime

And the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”  Isaiah 40:5 (ESV)

The Christmas story starts way back in the Old Testament, stretches across centuries of waiting, and bursts into the New Testament with glory fulfilled.  However, while the prophets must have yearned for the glory of God, the shepherds shrink back from it in their New Testament fields. (Luke 2:9).  And while Old Testament readers and listeners surely leaned forward whenever glory on earth was described, Mary is told not to fear when visited by the Angel Gabriel.
(Luke 1:29-30).

It seems that we humans crave the glory of God. At Christmas, especially, we are striving to approximate some version of that original Christmas through glorious music and decorations, lights and nativities. However, in the Christmas story we see  glory in two versions - straight up from God, which scares us, and another version that looks and feels different than expected because it mingles so intimately with, well, dirt.  A newspaper headline might have read “God’s Glory Steps into the Grime.”  In the fulfillment of God’s glory, there’s a woman giving birth in an animal stall, and just as shocking, a newborn sleeping in a feeding trough. There is the grime of shepherds just in from the fields, and there is grime involved in fleeing across the desert to Egypt in the middle of the night.  

For us, we find our joy stolen when we lean too much one way or the other.  If we see only the grime, we become a Grinch that no one wants to be around.  If we look on the glory of Christmas to the exclusion of the hurting and suffering around us, we become a virtual Mayor of Whoville, easily seen through and not taken seriously. We risk becoming inconsequential in affecting our culture. Instead, as followers of Christ and influencers for those around us, let us ask God to help us see both the glory and the grime.

Dear Father, help me seek Your glory while acknowledging the grime that permeates our world. Jesus, You came to a grimy world to bring Your light and glory. Let me shine Your glory into the grimy places of my life and my world. In Jesus name, Amen.

Written by Stephanie Smith

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