In reading the Gospels, it’s striking how often Jesus turns his attention to the least likely person in the room. Take Luke 19, where Jesus visits the city of Jericho. He’s pretty famous at this point, and news has reached the city that he’s on his way. The crowds turn out to see him. Everybody wants a piece of Jesus. When he arrives, Jesus scans the crowd, singles out a man up a tree and invites himself to dinner.
That man is Zacchaeus, the local tax collector. Everyone hates him. Out of all the people he could choose to associate himself with, why him?
But that’s typical of Jesus. He’s there at the temple, and there are rich people dropping off lavish donations. Jesus ignores them and points out a frail widow and her gift of two small coins. Another time the disciples are trying to have a grown up conversation, and Jesus is playing with the children. He stops to talk to beggars and cripples, hangs out with people no self-respecting citizen wants to be seen with. ‘Why does your man Jesus keep such poor company?’ the religious leaders ask his followers.
Through his life and his teaching, Jesus kept demonstrating God’s love for everyone. He shows no concern for reputation and fame, no desire to be part of the in-crowd. Everyone is loved and valued. There are no unimportant people.
It shouldn’t surprise us. We can see this theme right from the start. It’s all there in the beginning, in the story of Jesus’ birth. The Christmas story is full of outcasts and loners. Those on the edges keep finding themselves at the centre of the action. The unimportant get starring roles. The forgotten are the first to know.
We’re going to trace this story of the unexpected through Advent, this story that flips the world on its head, and turns the outside in. And we’d love for you to join us!