Holy vulnerability: A baby King and an upside-down Kingdom

Carried by a donkey, born of a virgin and laid in an animal trough. This is our humble King.
  • By: Laura Phillips

It’s rowdy. 

There’s a rhythmic clopping from heavy hooves. The dust kicks up to kiss the dry air. In and out— there’s heavy breathing from an exhausted, overwhelmed girl. The sound of villagers rushing up and down the streets crescendos into the heat of the day. Doors slam, bellowing voices shout, “No room!

It’s unassuming.

People brush past, running fast as if nothing spectacular is unfolding in their midst. There’s dirt-covered and calloused feet, a wheezing donkey chariot and the groans of a girl from Jerusalem, wide-eyed and terrified. There’s a young man from Nazareth who, just a few days ago, had sawdust on his dirt-stained fingernails. He worries about the whispers back home. Unwed and pregnant?

It’s meek.

There’s no inauguration, no melodic horns, no colourful robes. No golden chariot or extravagant abodes. There’s just an afterthought barn out back past the tree. About twenty steps back—you can’t miss it. There’s a flickering torchlight, tree roots and rocks. There’s a mooing and baaing and a protesting ox. There’s a shooing aside to make room for a labouring woman. There’s a cry into the night sky as she clenches dirt and hay into the palm of her trembling hand.

It’s vulnerable.

There’s a child, eyes barely open, lungs filled with fluid. He’s tiny and fragile but, oh, so glorious. There’s a sigh and a giggle rolled into one as she holds this miracle in her weak arms. There’s a scratchy kiss on her forehead from a proud new father, awestruck and terrified. There are no guards or gates or even a golden crown. Just the glory of heaven beaming down. The tender embrace of tired young parents far away from home. The perfect silence of a starry night.

Boy and girl are dressed up like Mary and Jospeh with baby Jesus. They are on hay under a hut. Jesus is ushering in an upside-down kingdom.

It’s wonder. 

A star ignites the sky as an arrow to His son—God’s most precious gift to humankind is here! He’s not where, or even who, they expected, but His glory leaves them breathless. The first invited over are the lowliest and the least, trembling with sheep by their sides and staffs in their hands. They kneel before the sight before them:

Love in flesh. Living Bread. Breath of Life.

It’s an upside-down kingdom ushered in.

From this quiet night on, the last will be first, and the first will be last. God the Son has come to serve, not to be served. From now on, the oppressed and the captives will be liberated. The blind will see, and the hungry will be satisfied. The humble will inherit the earth. The lost will be found.

From this quiet night on, those mourning will be comforted. The merciful will be shown mercy. The peacemakers will be called sons and daughters of the Most High. The pure will see God, the meek will inherit the earth.

From this holy vulnerability blooms life restored, life created, life eternal. From this unsuspected King bursts a new way. Can you feel it?

From tonight on, it’s Jesus in us, the hope of glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Kids from Bolivia wearing different colours and holding up balloons. They are celebrating the arrival of Jesus who is ushering in the upside-down Kingdom of God.

Merry Christmas from Compassion Canada! May the wonder of the birth of our King ignite fresh hope into your hearts and lives this season.