Over the centuries, God’s people have pleaded, “How long, O Lord?” God’s answer? When *the fullness of time had come, God sent Jesus to save and rescue the world. During Christmastide, we might characterize that pleasant-sounding fullness as the result of God’s careful planning—choosing the perfect moment, when all the right conditions were in place for Messiah to arrive.
The contexts surrounding Jesus’s birth weren’t all that perfect, though. Palestine was occupied by the armies and the culture of a cruel, hedonistic empire. Organized religion was in disarray, split into at least three sparring factions. The income gap was impossibly wide—autocrats and subservient plutocrats held all economic power. Armed religious terrorists roamed parts of the countryside with impunity. The Roman emperor had found a better way to determine new levels of taxation—a life-interrupting registration of the entire population.
This was the moment God chose to deliver the world. Given their history, this wasn’t what godly folks expected, though. No cosmic cataclysms. No warrior kings leading armies of righteous resistance. No distant invaders offering the recompense of justice.
Instead, God chose a small village as the place for a savior’s birth. The baby was born to internally displaced refugees, hardly noticeable in the swirl of that society’s dysfunction. Not many people realized that their pleas for deliverance had been answered.
“How long?” questions fill my prayers, too. I don’t see much fullness in the world’s political or environmental conditions, but I fervently believe that God’s rescue continues. That it’s already in place because of Jesus. God’s deliverance endures in the same small ways: In quiet places off the beaten path, undertaken by ordinary people—some of them older—who know how to wait, how to notice God’s hand, how to do God’s work. Rescuers are out there right now, starting or continuing their God-given ministries.
It’s (about) time….!
*Galatians 4:4 (KJV and NRSV). The Contemporary English Version has this as “When the time was right.” The Message offers, “When the time arrived that was set by God the Father.”
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