If there is anything that we could learn about God from Christmas, I guess one of them will be how God is a God of surprises. Not in the way of God behaving capriciously, but about God who simply can’t and won’t fit nicely with our neat checklists. Paradoxically, though, we should expect some surprises from God. I mean, he has always been surprise-full from the days of old. In the field of gynaecology alone, look at how Sarah could conceive after being barren and was way beyond her childbearing years. Look at Hannah who followed in the footsteps of Sarah (by the way, doesn’t the story of the birth of John the Baptist look suspiciously similar to Samuel’s?). Look at how God brought forth the descendants of Judah through Tamar, and David through Ruth, and Solomon through Bathsheba. So, when the angel appeared to Mary and said to her that she was going to conceive a child by the Holy Spirit, the news is simultaneously outrageous and scandalous but expected of God. He has been doing this for years, but he never stops to surprise us. He is the God who turn the world upside down and inside out. That’s why we can’t keep him in our little nice box. That’s why we can’t domesticate God to become our pet, to play with us only when we want him to. That’s why he is not our genie in the bottle, filling our needs as we please.
It is, indeed, a lesson particularly for us Presbyterians, who prize and are fond of order above everything else. Our motto is 1 Cor 14.40: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” God is indeed God who brings order out of chaos and the world out of tohu wa bohu, but it should be a flexible order and not a rigid one. The wind blows wherever it pleases. Celebrating this wonderfully surprising God, I wish all of you a merry Christmas.
(By the way, another proof that Jesus is the Son of God: when he turned the tables upside down in the temple, he was merely imitating His Father, no? The wise man says, it’s in the DNA.)