An Enormous Christmas Mess


“Nothing in this mess has a thing to do with Christmas. Except… possibly… the mess itself.”

As I sit here in the sun, I am surrounded by the trappings of it all. Boxes half-empty. Bags pulled from the attic. Tiny tufts of pink insulation that traveled down and lie lifeless on the floor. The tree is up and lights are strung and the mounds of decorations are ready to be placed. I know it will all look lovely but for now, it is just a mess.

Oddly though, nothing in this mess has a thing to do with Christmas. Except… possibly… the mess itself. Because the truth is that a stable is an awfully messy place to birth your baby boy. And Mary and Joseph’s lives… their young and faithful lives… quickly became a mess, as well. When I spend these minutes thinking about it all… I realize perhaps I have misunderstood faith in more ways than one. Because sometimes we think that being faithful will make our lives organized, shiny and neat. That the seeming right of it will clear the wrong of the world. And yet, The One we seek to be faithful to came into the world in a way that created chaos in His own parent’s lives.

They were faithful and God still led them into a situation beyond what they could comprehend.

They were faithful and God still called them to do a job they felt inadequate to do.

They were faithful and God still allowed them to feel judged by the world around them.

It had to feel like a mess. A holy, purposeful, blessed and confusing mess. I know what that feels like, and maybe you do, too.  For all our striving and choosing and working we can still find ourselves stuck in hard spots.  Our vehicles break down at the worst possible time.  Our children struggle and we feel inept to help.  Our finances are pulled thin and we cannot imagine how ends will meet.  It is all such an awful mess.

Somehow,  Mary and Joseph settled into their mess and embraced their boy and did what felt impossible to them. There is no way they felt ready to do the job they were given.  That feels familiar to me.  Taking that task one moment at a time, they held The Creator in their arms and sought to raise The One who would seek to save us all. They wiped His tears and met His needs until He grew into who He always was… The One who would wipe my tears, and yours… and meet my needs, and yours…

And I as I sit here, I think there is nothing neat about faith. It is, instead, a willingness to trust that even in the chaos, we must do the next thing and believe that God will meet us in that place and work whatever miracle is needed. We cannot always see what is coming or how our current circumstances might be resolved.  But, faith is found in sitting deep in this mess and trusting that somehow His Hand will uncover the lovely underneath…

in our homes…

in the lives of those we love…

in the struggles we face today.

There is comfort in that Christmas truth.

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