What's on your wish list? These days you can make a list for almost anything, from the extravagant to the mundane. And if you’re the kind of person who already has everything they need, sites like givewell.org have made it possible to send gifts that improve other people's lives in targeted and transformative ways.
Whatever is on your list, here's an idea that probably didn't show up: garbage cleanup. Believe it or not, that was the top wish for a 6-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis. When the Make-A-Wish Foundation showed up at his door, he spent a day riding around in a big, green garbage truck with his name printed on the side. Residents cheered from the sidewalk as he rolled through city streets cleaning up like a conquering hero. It was a dream come true.
And yet, most of us would never wish for a day of garbage cleanup. It’s the kind of wish you’ll only find in the heart of a child. As we grow up, most of our dreams have to do with prosperity, status, or success. Garbage cleanup? That's not something we dream about. It’s something we usually try to avoid.
The striking message of Christmas is that Jesus arrives in the very places we so often try to avoid. Compared to the splendor of ancient Rome, the land of Israel wasn't anywhere to dream about. It was somewhere to avoid. But the beauty of Christmas is discovering that God's wish list includes all the unlikely and unlovely places in our world. God’s wish list even includes all of us. It's no coincidence that our Savior was born during an imperial census of "all the world," (Lk. 2:1). The birth of Jesus in a forgotten corner of a global empire is a lasting reminder that everyone shows up on God’s wish list. No one is ever forgotten.
This Christmas let’s be watching for God in all the places of our lives that we so often try to avoid. Because if there's anything we learn from Jesus, it's that God often surprises us by showing up in the most unlikely and unlovely places. God never shows up as a tyrant to manage or control. Instead, he shows up as a humble child whose greatest wish is to heal and to mend the brokenness in our world.
The Rev’d. Eric M. Hillegas
Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24th at 6 pm: Holy Eucharist, Rite II w/Candlelight
Feast of Lights, Sunday, January 6th at 3 pm: Ecumenical Epiphany Service at Sacred Heart