God does just fine with nobodies from nowhere who have nothing. That is part of the subversive message of Christmas. Here’s Mary, a teenaged bride-to-be from a derided small town who is about to fall in line to do her duty—to become who the culture tells her she should be. Aside from being especially sharp, aware, and spiritually hungry, she doesn’t have much to offer. She doesn’t have a lot of buying power or leadership potential, not even any star quality. “I am the Lord’s servant,” she tells the angel when he reveals God’s crazy plan. “May it be to me according to your word.” Right answer.
God does just fine with nobodies from nowhere who have nothing. The world’s powers don’t do fine with that. They need you to stand in lines. They need you to want. But the message of Christmas is that God comes to nobodies. God comes to the middle of nowhere. God comes to those who have nothing. God comes and he fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty. He confuses the proud and lifts up the humble. He notices the lowly while turning his back to the powerful.
We can posture and preen and puff up, but God comes to who we really are. God doesn’t come to the image we carefully craft or to our military might, to our X-factor or our super-power or our perfectly-marketed product. God comes to our stark nakedness and our deep lack, to what's hiding behind all the production value.
It’s his coming that defines us—nothing else. No matter who we are or what path we follow, his coming defines us. That’s the message of Christmas that can get lost in the glitter and lights and even well-intended festivities. A light came shooting through the darkness, and the darkness was left reeling in confusion and defeat. Governments and celebrities and trends rise and fall. We rise and fall. But who would notice a baby lying in a feeding trough?
Because not only does God come to nobodies from nowhere who have nothing; God came as a nobody from nowhere with nothing. That is how the world is saved.