I am a big fan of the British author Terry Pratchett. In one sense he writes fantasy novels, but within them is biting social commentary, complete with footnotes that add a zinger or two. Yes, they are fantasy, but he makes Disc World so everyday- real that the fact that there are dwarfs, trolls, goblins, werewolves and vampires among the working-class human residents seems reasonable. They are all regular beings, trying to make a living and go about life. The hero is the chief of police who tries to maintain order while also dealing with in-house issues such as a vampire demanding his Equal Opportunity rights to be hired, pointing out that there were no vampires on the police force (why not?) In one scene, a tired dwarf sergeant doing the front-desk duty tried to explain to the speaking ashes of another vampire that technically it was not murder if you are already dead when it happens.

One of his books not set in Disc World is Good Omens. There, the end of the world is supposed to be happening soon. The anti-Christ has been sent to earth to be born the son of a major political figure. (Think The Omen movie trilogy.) Unfortunately, the ones making the switch that would replace the infant of the politician with the anti-Christ blundered. Instead of the politician, the child was placed with a common bank clerk. Instead of growing up as the privileged son of the elite, here was a kid who went to regular schools, had chores, got grounded if he misbehaved, and had unexceptional friends. Even the sending of the Hell Hound backfired. The demon dog would become what the kid named him. Instead of Terror or a similar name, the boy while talking to his friends described the type of dog he would like: not big, not small, just a medium-sized mutt that he would name Dog. Thus the Hell Hound was transformed into a people-loving regular kid’s dog.

On the story goes, with both demons and angels trying to change things. But the kid is wise, deciding it was all too complicated to try to fix everything. He would simply let the world work itself out, while he dealt with his friends, school, and trying not to get grounded.

During Advent we celebrate Jesus’ birth, as well as the future Second Coming. I suggest that we should also give thanks for the setting in which he was raised: by ordinary people, in a community that was a minority and oppressed yet still maintained its culture and sense of worth, each struggling to make a living and trying to do what was right, without power or influence. All of the children would have chores and help out keeping the family going. As a toddler he would have been reprimanded, as a child and teen been grounded (or whatever their version was, probably simply more chores.) He would have been afraid at times, confused at times, maybe even bullied by kids of wealthy parents. He would have rolled his eyes, griped with his friends over the unreasonableness of parents, and taken in all of the complexity of life.

That is our good omen: God “pitching his tent among us,” one of us, so understands what we are going through. Emmanuel – “God With Us.” Which also means besides

understanding our struggles, God also understands our joys, shares in our laughter, appreciates the silly as well as the well-loved mundane. A good omen, indeed.