Let’s get the pre-judgment out of the way. I am a fan of the TV show Dancing with the Stars. I know. But I’m a sucker for process and growth and DTWS provides plenty of that on a weekly basis. Plus sequins! And fringe!
If you aren’t familiar with this show the idea is that professional dancers are assigned “stars” from entertainment and sports and they teach them to dance. Week by week the stars are judged and eliminated until someone wins the mirror ball trophy.
Throughout the competition there are themes assigned to certain weeks. One of the fan favorite weeks is called “Most Memorable Year.” This is when the contestants share the most memorable year from their life, which typically involves something quite dramatic, either a very high or very low point in their life.
Over the course of the show, I’ve realized that if I don’t hear some dramatic version of a story about a contestant I don’t root for them as much. It is really the drama of their life and their struggles that pull me in and make me feel connected to them.
This is true of any great story or biography, isn’t it? You want to know how someone has suffered and pulled through. There’s an authenticity and connection we make to people who have shared some of the same hardships as us.
It is the drama, at least in part, that draws us into the story of the birth of Jesus. A young woman pledged to be married becomes pregnant by the Spirit. Her betrothed wonders if he has to divorce her quietly. An angel intervenes in a dream and he decides to marry the young woman anyway. Then, just as the woman is about to give birth, they have to travel to their home town because of a census. She has to travel a great distance with a huge belly, a situation no one would envy. They arrive only to find out there is no place to stay, so she has to give birth in a place set aside for animals.
The theme for this week of Advent is Peace. It seems there is not much peace in this part of Jesus’ story. But doesn’t the realness of this draw you in? Doesn’t your heart go out to Mary as you see her make a decision to tell the angel, “may it be done to me according to your word”? And, again, as Mary and Joseph make their trek to Bethlehem? And then again at the humility of Mary giving birth in the place where animals were held?
Where have you been feeling the drama in your own life lately? Where have you been thirsty for a little more peace? The Prince of Peace knows drama. He was birthed in the midst of it. And he can meet you in the midst of yours.
Years later, when he sat with his disciples in the upper room, he said to them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
In the midst of this Christmas season, with all of its parties and activities, give yourself a few moments to sit in the presence of the Prince of Peace. Let yourself receive his love, his care, his hope. And maybe, for just a moment, the drama will ease a bit and you will enjoy his gift of peace.