December 25 Reflections

Barry Switzer served as head football coach at the University of Oklahoma for sixteen years and coached the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL for four years. He is one of very few coaches who have won a national title in college football and the Super Bowl in the NFL. He grew up in hard circumstances. His dad was a bootlegger who spent time in prison. Both of his parents died in tragic circumstances. Anything that Switzer earned was through hard work; nothing was given to him. As a coach he always looked for the kid who had nothing but desired to play football and be a better man.  When asked about this he said in one of his many funny but right on quotes, “I don’t want the player who was born on third base but acts like he hit a triple.” Barry Switzer always related better to scrappy players who grew up poor like him, than to the rich and privileged.

Jesus created and owned the entire universe. Yet, he chose to be born in the dugout. God, yet gave up all that privilege to come to earth out of humble love for you and me. He was God yet humbled himself. “Jesus had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim any privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death-the worst kind of death at that-a crucifixion.” (Philippians 2:6-8, The Message)

Jesus was not born nor did he grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth. Humanly speaking he had no status, no privilege, no wealth; after all he was from Nazareth and “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) He was literally born in a barn where donkeys stayed while their owners spent the night at the inn. He had no cradle or bed, just a feeding trough…a manger. He did not act like he was born on third base but went through life acting like he hit a triple. Humility marked his life, beginning to end.

I can relate to God because of Jesus. I can connect with Jesus. He never had it easy, even though he could have. Especially I think this week that because he was born in difficulty, I know that he will be with me in my difficult circumstances. Jesus understands. If he had been born in a palace surrounded by royalty I could not relate.  But he was born in a barn with donkeys around and the first to show up were shepherds, the nobodies of that time. Jesus understands difficulty. He lived it. Because of that I know he is with me in my difficulties. We are going to think about that on Christmas Day. Some passages to read: Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7; Philippians 2:5-11.

Grace upon Grace,

Verlyn