My house is always a mess. At Christmas though it is chaos. Atop the usual mess is a Christmas clutter, that I refer to as "Christmas threw up all over the house". Unlike most of the year, this added mess doesn't make me stressed out, I love it. I love the chaos and the clutter of Christmas sights and sounds. There are never too many Christmas trees, carols, or nativities. At it's core Christmas is a celebration of the mess that is life, and the one who brings beauty to the ugly chaotic disarray of it all. It's a story captured in plastic figures, ceramic snowmen, and even bears, that make it look so beautiful and lovely. Make no mistake there is beauty, lots of beauty, there is a baby after all. It is a messy story though, so very messy. It's full of misery, fear, injustice, and heartache, but also hope, so much hope, and God provides and acts in such unexpected ways. It's life, a series of fortunate and unfortunate events, that don't make sense. A series of messiness that never seems to stop. One mess is cleaned up, relief sets in and then a whole new mess springs forth. Christmas is a mess, that I am excited to revel in.
A virgin gets pregnant, today, it's not newsworthy, it's reality TV. Then it was death penalty worthy. Yet we have Mary's reaction, a song of praise. Praise for the God who placed this situation in front of her. Why? How? To make matters worse, she was already betrothed to someone. Now she is knocked up, and her life, her relationship it's all in jeopardy. God provides. Joseph accepts her, accepts this responsibility placed on his shoulders, and embraces Mary. Mary survives, her marriage goes forward, but don't breathe that sigh of relief to deeply, because guess what now, you get to go on a big journey Mary. Take that big, uncomfortable belly and sit your swollen butt on a donkey and head away from your family, to register with your husband's family. Say goodbye to your mom, your midwife, all of it. Your faith, your dedication it's all good, but here is your next adventure. Oh and guess what, now you get a barn for a birthing suite. There was a place of shelter, there were visitors with news of angels heralding his birth, and there were magi with valuable gifts. All of these things encouraged Mary, provided for her family, God kept them going. Things didn't get easier once this baby was born either, then they had to flee for their lives from a murderous king. And we all know what happened when the baby grew up.
Do you ever feel like you have one mess after another with barely a chance to catch your breath? I bet Mary could relate, Joseph too. The story that was written for us all in their story, is so beautiful, so startling. In their story, there is God's provision and protection. In their story there is adventure, anticipation and excitement. In their story there is grief, but there is also grace.
We make a mess of this amazing picture of love God has given us in this story. We turn it into a commercialized fiasco really, but at the heart of all that there is an attempt to see the beauty, to revel in joy, to be childlike again. I think that's why Buddy the Elf is my favorite Christmas movie character. He is on a huge emotional journey, his world has been turned upside down and inside out, yet he still finds the wonder. He covers every surface in Christmas cheer, he sings it loud for everyone to hear. He finds the beauty in the mess, and while it may not be Jesus he sees, his faith in santa even when it seems like maybe Santa let him down, gives him hope. He sounds a lot like some of the Bible heroes.
God entered that mess to give us love and hope. He entered the mess to be with us, not above us. So I hope you can revel in it this Christmas season. I hope you can see past the flurry of appointments, the long list of to do's and just marvel at the miracle. Yes it's a mess, life is a mess, but God brings hope in the midst of the chaos, and the nativity is such a beautiful example. If you feel like life is hitting you with one disaster after another, grab a cup of warm liquid, google image search baby Jesus and enjoy the silliness that represents that amazing story, but then look at that story, and see the hope, the wonder, and the peace that can come in the midst of mess.