During advent this year, my church is working through a series on the idea of revision. Maybe this is also a good time to pause for a moment and look ahead at what this revision means.
There were a few times in my life as a student when a professor would send one of my papers back to me asking for revision. To revise an assigned paper meant having to take a close look at what I had already written, and then analyze the content of the paper for something that might be headed in the wrong direction, or formed the wrong conclusion, or maybe just need stronger clarification to clearly communicate the main point.
But it is not just students. We all face revisions in our lives all the time. A job change may force us to revise our professional skills. A health crisis may force of to revise our physical abilities. A change of income or unexpected expense may force us to revise our budgets. Changing schedules and events may force us to revise our plans and our calendars. We are always analyzing, tweaking, and clarifying the many details of our lives based on changes that come our way.
Maybe we don’t want to think about Christmas as a time when God forces us to face the unpleasant—but necessary—revisions in our lives. We live in a world that would rather embrace Christmas as a time of celebration and joy.
Revision Can Be Difficult
It often seems like revision is a forced activity. We are not the ones looking to revise our plans, or revise our budgets, or revise our careers. Rather, these are revisions that are pressed upon us by changing circumstances that we did not necessarily predict, and cannot necessarily control.
And so sometimes revision can be an arduous task. We do not look at revision as a pleasant experience. In 2015 when I was going through months of cancer treatment, my family and I were forced to make some revisions to our family life. My wife and children had to revise their list of chores to make up for all the around-the-house jobs I could no longer accomplish. I had to revise my time to allow for extra hours of sleep, and daily trips to the radiation department at the cancer center. Those were revisions in our lives we would all rather not have to confront. But they were necessary adjustments to make in order for my family to make it through that year.
Jesus Is All About Revision.
So as much as we may not like facing circumstances that force us to revise something in our lives, Jesus came at Christmas to bring much needed renewal to our world and to our lives. Some of that we welcome with celebration and open arms. We welcome the gift of God’s grace. We welcome God’s forgiveness.
But what about the ways that Jesus presses us toward revising our lives in some not-so-comfortable ways? Isn’t this at the heart of the conflict Jesus had with the Pharisees and Jewish religious leaders of his day? Jesus confronted a religious system entrenched with tradition and routine, and he turned it upside-down. And for those who lived comfortably within the predictable routines and traditions of religion, this was a forced revision that was not at all welcomed. These are the same class of religious leaders that would eventually push a death sentence for Jesus.
Maybe we don’t want to think about Christmas as a time when God forces us to face the unpleasant—but necessary—revisions in our lives. We live in a world that would rather embrace Christmas as a time of celebration and joy. And certainly Christmas is about celebration and joy. But the birth of Christ also took place so that God could change us, renew us, and redeem his world.
In this season of advent, as we anticipate celebrating again the birth of Jesus, what revisions come along with it in your own life?