We live in challenging times.  But that could be said of just about any era in history.  War.  Hunger.  Immorality.  Crime.  Greed.  Poverty. Two thousand years ago things were pretty rough in the Middle East.  The Roman Empire was in charge, and it was brutal.

Even though the Romans allowed the Jewish culture and systems to remain in place, they ruled with the proverbial iron fist.  Royalty and religious leaders had to kowtow.  Merchants endured a harsh economy.  Families worked hard to eke out an existence.  The average man was a peon; women and slaves were nothing.  Unspeakable cruelty, including crucifixion, was the norm. There was sharp political and theological divide, with an underground revolt smoldering. Cultural and ethnic tensions due to nationality, class and religion.  Concerns about immigration and refugees.  Hope for something … or someone … to break into the chaos and bring peace.

You know the story.  It wasn’t the conquering adult warrior many expected.  It was a baby. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, entering into the midst of our human existence to walk with us and show us the way.   It was a miraculous breakthrough that changed world history forever, something that has been widely documented even outside Christian literature. (One good example is the book Dominion, by Tom Holland.)

As we consider the times we’re in … are we open to a breakthrough?  At this time of year, do we only look back and remember one momentous occasion?  Or, in our hearts, do we invite and await a 2023 breakthrough?  Emmanuel (God with us).  An epiphany (manifestation of Christ).  These concepts are not new; they have been in play since the manger.  But do we perceive them?  Especially in times like these?

Advent is the pre-season.  The season of expectation.  Awaiting the breakthrough.  But do we need to wait for one special day?  Since that first Christmas, every day is a new opportunity for breakthrough.  In prayer, in word, in deed we can seek it.  For ourselves and for others. Our world, our nation, and our city are yearning for shalom.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of PeaceIsaiah 9:6