I know soccer isn’t for everyone, but that is especially true in the United States. You can see evidence of that fact in our cultural conversation. One of the best commercials I’ve seen during this World Cup has been from Doritos, where Peyton Manning and David Beckham (he’s a legendary soccer player if you didn’t already know, and not just the guy married to the spice girl) have a conversation about whether to call it “soccer” or “football.” Even in our cultural conversation surrounding soccer, it seems, we still don’t get it. Even advertisers, who are usually pretty good at identifying what will sell their product, aren’t too good at it when it comes to a four-year worldwide tournament that draws the most worldwide viewership of any event.
I think part of the reason is because it doesn’t match with any of the “big three” American sports, baseball, football, and basketball. Its scores look like baseball, but its field and way it’s played are not. The clock is completely different. The way it is officiated is closest to basketball but can’t quite fit into the same mold.
It is here where I think the same thing about the coming Christ child. The way Jesus was born did not fit into the preconceived notions at the time. He was royalty, but he wasn’t born into a palace with all kinds of attendants announcing his arrival. He was the Messiah, but he wasn’t born with a sword in his hand and trained in the arts of war. He was a religious leader, but he wasn’t dedicated in a temple and taught the secret ways.
He also doesn’t quite fit in with our current culture. He is the Lord of our lives but became that through service and not the seizing of power. He brings peace, but in a way that passes understanding. He tells us to be giving, loving, and gracious when all of the other ways we hear to “get ahead” in the world are on a completely different spectrum.
When we try to fit the Christ child into our preconceived notions of who or what he is, it will frustrate us. So maybe, this Advent season, we watch and wait for who he is, and let the beauty overcome us.