We are firmly in the season of Advent, preparing for Christmas, and as always I am meditating on what our Lord’s arrival meant. Today I have been thinking about the dirty stable, the messy birth, the complete lack of splendour in His arrival.

Aaron Shust captures this idea wonderfully in the song ‘Wondrous Love’, which starts:
“That You would leave Your throne
And make this world Your home,
Forsaking majesty,
Embracing mundane,
With all of its shame” (Aaron Shust, ‘Wondrous Love’)


The linguist in me keeps lingering over the phrase ’embracing mundane’. Mundane has two meanings:
1. Lacking interest or excitement; dull.
2. Of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one.

Most of us know all too well about the first meaning of mundane. Our lives can often seem to lack interest or excitement; the daily routine is often, in our opinions, dull. ‘Same old, same old’ is how we feel. It’s hard to feel spiritual when you’re faced with a pile of ironing or books to mark, when you’re dealing with the nitty-gritty of life. Standing in a crowded supermarket queue, fighting your way through the throngs of Christmas shoppers in town, dealing with blocked drains or broken heating… none of these things seem particularly exciting. We often feel we’d be much better Christians if real life just didn’t keep getting in the way! We feel we’re tied down to this earthly world rather than being citizens of a heavenly one, as Paul tells us. We read the Bible and so often it seems to talk about lofty principles that bear no resemblance to our daily lives.

But our beliefs ultimately do shape our actions and the lofty truths are actually more real than the tangible, physical world all around us. And when we feel that the mundane is overpowering us, Jesus surprises us, for He actually left His heavenly home to dwell among us, to share in the daily grind, to ’embrace mundane.’ He did that because of His love for us.

Not for Jesus the splendour of a dynamic appearance from heaven. Instead, He was born in a dirty stable, among the smelly animals. There was no room for Him at the inn. He chose to enter the world as we all do, through the pain of labour and the sheer hard work of childbirth. The angels may have appeared to shepherds and wise men, but in many ways, the Christmas story is all about mundane. It’s appropriate that it should be so, for this is the story of God entering our physical world, with all of its limitations and sorrows, in order to save us. We are not Gnostics, shunning the physical world for a spiritual reality that is divorced from the everyday. Jesus shows us how to combine the two worlds. “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor 4:8)

If Jesus, who knew such glory and splendour, could embrace mundane because of His wondrous love for us, may we too be able to embrace mundane, valuing the ordinary and treasuring the everyday, because we have eyes to see beyond the now.