Earlier this month, a camel escaped from a live nativity in Bonner Springs, Kansas. The next day, the second Sunday in Advent, police received reports of the creature traversing on a golf course. So, cops chased it while riding on golf carts. But in slapstick movie fashion, it evaded capture (I assume it lost them by cutting through a sand trap).
Later, motorists spotted the camel on Highway 7. But it escaped again as it was apparently quite good at going home by another way! Sightings kept emerging as giggling children and cellphone-streaming adults watched the camel travel through a city park and their neighborhoods (and perhaps even leave a few “gifts”).
Alas, the journey eventually ended. Succeeding where Herod’s guards failed, police and animal control caught the wayward camel and sent it, as the police department put it, to “go back to doing camel things.”
Some might suggest the mishap ruined the live nativity. But I suspect that those who spotted this camel running through their backyard, past them on the third hole, or alongside their car will remember it as a magical moment for years to come.
Too often we domesticate the biblical Christmas stories to the point they no longer surprise us. We cosplay as bathrobe-wearing magi with fast-food crowns. Throw in some animals, some singers in choir robes, and a cute baby doll. Then we have a nice, safe story that won’t disrupt us or our world. Follow the same script as last year, keeping the words as locked up as the camels are supposed to be. Comforting like hot cocoa by the crackling fire.
But what if we dare to let it out? To ripe the stories out of a land far away from a time long ago. What if we let those stories dance around us today? In our world where a plague sweeps back and forth across the land. In our world where racial injustices continue to crucify those made in the image of God. In our world where insurrectionists preach a false gospel of power and violence.
What if we saw the Christ child in our world today? What if we unlocked the texts and read them anew out on Highway 7? What if we let the Holy Spirit run through our lives like a camel dodging cops on golf carts?
Brian Kaylor is president & editor-in-chief of Word&Way.
P.S. Thanks for journeying with us through this unsettling Advent. If you missed any of the 27 daily devotionals, you can find them all online: Unsettling Advent. This has been an effort of Word&Way, and you can help make content like this possible by supporting our journalism ministry. We hope you have a blessed Christmas!