Gold and silver drip from the Christmas Tree. Soft angelic music floats around the dimly lit room. A warm fire crackles in the background. Neatly wrapped packages sparkle with anticipation for Christmas Morning.
Standing back and admiring this perfect Christmas moment, I quickly snap a picture.
Luckily, I preserved that second of impending Christmas Joy. Immediately after, the muddy dog and boy raced in from the backyard, tossed a mangled stuffed alligator into my tree, and a glass ornament from the very top smashed to pieces, all over those beautifully wrapped presents.
Again I take out the broom, spray bottle, and trash can. For the hundredth time this week, I find myself sweeping up a mess of a Christmas to come. I wipe down the presents, one by one, so that they sparkle once again. I pull that chewed up alligator from the twisted branches of a now crooked tree. Rearranging the ornaments, so each one it is presentable, I polish and face their best side out.
But even if your dog and boy keep their muddy paws at a distance, I have a feeling you are on the dirty floor right next to me, trying to clean up for Christmas.
Advent is the time of the year when we wait for Jesus. Weeks before the Christmas celebration, we set ourselves up to look for God’s great promise of a Savior. But, our life is filled with flying alligators aimed right for our beautiful Christmas Tree. These messy complications are hurled at us out of nowhere. Chaos and muck spew all over our perfectly planned peaceful moments. Endlessly we sweep up the dirt, and try to pose for that happy Christmas picture.
This whole time we try to preserve the polished, reverent, beauty of Christmas. But really, Christmas isn’t all that pretty.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14
The Lord was coming to the earth. He would set his foot on the very ground he created. Every child since Adam and Eve had been waiting in anticipation for this moment; when the promise of God would arrive and destroy the evil reign of Satan, sin and death. But, talk about the flying alligator that smashed those perfectly planned expectations. The Word of God came unexpectedly and shamefully dressed as a tiny, dirty infant.
Lowly and humble, He was born of an unwed mother. Light of Light, God of God, He ironically had no words to announce that silent Christmas night. Descending on a poor unknown town, the King of kings was hidden in a feeding trough.
A helpless baby is not a beautiful nor impressive God for us to celebrate on Christmas Day. There are no teaching or instruction from the lips of this fragile little boy tonight. He is just lays there, breathing in and out. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, He is cold and hungry. Mary nurses the baby Jesus back to sleep, and that is it.
We have heard this story hundreds of times, and when faced with such a strangely disappointing story, we can’t help but try and sweep up the mess of Christmas.
We polish up His story with angels and Magi and expensive gifts fit for a king. We clean up the dirty edges with words of kindness and giving. We decorate the great Christmas story to reflect our very best efforts. Then we take a quick picture before it all falls apart.
Because we have forgotten that Christmas is a celebration of a mess.
The chaos and mess before the picture is where Jesus was sent to dwell. Dirty manger, unknown parents. Jesus put on flesh, and it wasn’t pretty. Rather, when the son of God
I’m just trying to hold it together until he gets here.