I did smile at the story of the confused koala up a tree – except this was a family Christmas tree inside the house! Apparently a 3-4 year old juvenile female koala had broken into the house and perched on the tree. I can imagine the surprise of the family when they found her. The local koala sanctuary thought it was a prank. But eventually two people came out and took the koala away and released it back into the bush. With mobile phone cameras, everything can be recorded and so I watched a clip of the whole thing. Nice to see a happy ending, sense the sunshine, hear the Aussie accents – and smile. How weird!
What is weird? Dictionaries will describe weird variously – ‘very strange and unusual’, ‘unexpected’, ‘not natural’, ‘difficult to explain’, ‘strange in a mysterious and frightening way’. I also found a reference to ‘British English’ saying that weird is ‘funny peculiar’. And there was the koala in my mind again – and I smiled to myself.
Having a koala up a Christmas tree in a home is more out of place, I think, than anything. Newsworthy in a feel good way. What is weird is Advent … and Christmas … and Epiphany … and Lent … and Easter … and Pentecost! At the moment, in Advent, we have God coming to us, and we miss the weird if we go for the cute and cuddly Jesus in a manger. He’s a baby in a nativity – unusual – but still warm and under shelter. But we miss the weird if we don’t realise that somehow this is the holy God invading enemy territory on a rescue mission. And if that is the scenario then what we’d prefer is a super soldier not a baby of questionable origins. In fact on top of scandal and poverty, this toddler will be a refugee and can you imagine the Egyptian border officials waving the ‘holy family’ (interesting term) through when Joseph tells them “An angel told us to flee because the kid is in danger from the king!”?!
This Church Year we hear lot from the Gospel according to Mark and he doesn’t even have a Christmas story. He starts by saying that the Good New of Jesus begins with John the Baptist calling out about someone to come and John makes weird links – this man is all about forgiveness – which means we should be about repentance – and he will have the power to baptise with the Holy Spirit – in other words, the power of God. The only conclusion that would fit is that God is coming but when holiness gets close to sin, who gets destroyed?
And yet the weird part of this God who comes to us is that this time it is him! On a cross! Now that is weird(!) … but good news for us! GS