Have a Messy Christmas

I came across this piece I wrote the day after Christmas 2020. I thought I'd share it here on my blog.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23)  

A few years ago, I preached a sermon called “Have a Messy Christmas.” I called the congregation to reconsider the night Christ was born. Not the dating of his birth, but to reimagine the conditions into which Christ was born. I emphasized how we allow our culture and traditions to paint a mental picture of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus with halos in a clean stable surrounded by a host of animals and divine visitors. However, I can’t imagine a place where people kept animals being too sanitary and clean.  

Although our minds may fill with picturesque nativity scenes, the truth is Jesus, God with us, was born in a lowly estate. Jesus came to redeem a broken and dirty world. God did not give baby Jesus a clean delivery room to enter the world (or even a bottle of Germ-X). Christ wasn’t concerned with painted halos about his head, but he came to roll up his sleeves and to do the work the Father sent him to do.  

Why am I talking about this? Well, it’s because for many people Christmas 2020 has been tough. I’m not sure why several people have testified it didn’t feel like Christmas to them. And I must agree it didn’t for me either. The reasons are different, but for some, it was because of sickness, tragedy, or even death. For my household, it was all three.  

Last night, I struggled to hold in the tears as I looked at my phone screen. I realized I would not get that call from my dad this year. Many times, they were brief, and I didn’t realize how important they were to me. I was a fool to think of them as an obligatory act. Of course, we had our disagreements, but he was (is) my dad. Our relationship should’ve been stronger. Sometimes, life is messy like that.  

But that’s the point of Christmas, isn’t it? It’s not about ribbons, bows, eggnog, or mistletoe. It’s about a God who loved us so much, that he came into our world. Into our brokenness. Into our sorrow and pain. Christmas was not meant to be about many of the things we celebrate. Some of them, are good in and of themselves, but when they fail to happen we shouldn’t lose hope, because Christ was born in Bethlehem!  

It’s become a cliché to say, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” However, in 2020 we all would do good to recall this simple fact. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He came for you and for me.  

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