Guest Post – Vanessa Stern: It Was a Simple Night, but a Holy Night

As I was rushing back home to finish who knows what, feeling the stress of the season, it occurred to me I had yet to sit down to write a blog for advent. I allowed the mundane to become demanding, consumerism was starting to consume me. In the midst of my mental merry go round, I discovered my writing in the past wasn’t necessarily for my readers, but for me.

In the act of pausing to sit down and share my thoughts and beliefs on this holy time, I was yielding to the true Spirit of the season.  My sharing was like a form of communion in remembrance of Christ’s birth; an attempt of holy reckoning against the hustle and bustle of getting caught up in schedules and anxiety that work in tandem to overshadow such sacred ground, I was sharing my struggle so I could to stay above the hustle, to break bread with the Prince of Peace.

Instead, this year I had been breaking down.

Unfortunately this holiday has been hijacked by consumerism and disparity in a country that has more than enough.

I have more than enough. But sometimes my enough isn’t enough…

When I open my emails or social media I am bombarded with sales, deals, bargains, ads telling me what I need, what I want, encouraging me to make Wish Lists, beckoning me to get more, save more, buy more, more just overwhelms us to the point that true contentment is now blurred.

Ironically, the Son of God didn’t show up in a King’s robe or lying in a golden bassinet. As a matter of fact, he came naked into this world; his parents had to leave on donkey, in the middle of the night to find a safe place. Though there are discrepancies, the truth is, he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but wrapped in cloths that were less than desirable. His mother barely a teenager, his father not fully convinced, but obedient to the call, this couple entered into an eternal agreement when Heaven entered Earth.

The night was simple, but the night was Holy. The surroundings didn’t make it holy, history in the making, long awaited Savior and worth of our soul entering broken humanity as the most vulnerable creature, a baby, who would grow up to divide the calendar, who’s name would be taken in vain, died for, and worshiped, who would conquer death and the grave, make it holy!

His Law is love and His Gospel is Peace.
In his name all oppression shall cease…. made it holy.*

He broke every stereotype of a king. He crossed barriers to love the marginal. His family wasn’t well off or well known. He lived a life that caused men to leave their belongings to follow him, he called the rich poor, he blessed the poor and the mourning, and gave hope to the hopeless, carried the government upon his shoulders, flipped tables in the temple, was denied by his closest friends, broke bread and drank wine with “those people”…and He continues to cause men and women to ponder, study, theorize, and wonder.

I have learned the Kingdom of God often appears upside down to onlookers. He said crazy things like: Those who lose their life will gain it. Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, and if someone wants your tunic, give them your cloak as well.

As I was shuffling through my list, feeling the pressure to perform, pressure to appear, pressure to provide, I was reminded that I had completely overstepped the Holy Ground of this holiday.

I had become my own god. I was looking to me for the answers.

Jesus told his disciples to take nothing with them on their travels…we make lists.

Jesus told his followers to shake the sand off their feet…we get offended.

Jesus told his creation to fear not, for he overcame the world…we are overcome by fear.

Jesus came to give us Peace…we look for peace in everything, but Him.

Jesus told Peter to step out in faith…we calculate the losses.

Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow…we wear badges of worry.

Jesus came not to condemn the world…we condemn those who are different.

I make lists. I get offended. I fear. I look for peace. I calculate the losses. I worry. I condemn…I am convinced I am not enough, that He’s not enough.

I often choose disparity instead of abundance. I compare. I compromise. I completely overlook Christ the Savior was born, in disparity so that I may have life. He entered this world with nothing, but gave us everything!

His entire life was wrapped in humility.

I’m claiming to celebrate a miracle in a little town called Bethlehem, while tripping over my entitlements and frustrations.

I need to go back. I need to enter into the barn, sit on the dusty ground, smell the hay, hear the animals, and feel the cold air remembering the God of humanity laid in a trough, naked and vulnerable. I need to hear the angels sing, I need to look at the desperation of my own soul and remember…He came for me. In the only way I know how, I whisper: Everything You do is backwards. And sometimes I don’t know how to follow You.


O Night Divine. He came for me.

The night was simple, but the night was Holy.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6


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