Christ Comes Amidst the Mess

img_2217Let’s be real here. Those #JesseTree snaps happen in front of the only place in the house that’s not a disaster at the moment. I’m sure we’ll get finished decorating and put the boxes away, but it’s not likely to happen today. Heck, the kitchen has piles of laundry. (My washer and dryer are at the edge of the kitchen.) The pantry is overflowing from extra baking stuff that is waiting for me to make use of it. The table is covered in school stuff, but needs to be covered with cookies on cooking racks. I haven’t dusted in Godknowshowlong.

Everything feels like a mess, which is how life is sometimes. But even if it is a mess, Jesus comes anyway. In fact, it’s in the messiness of our lives that it’s most important that we allow Him to come.

Things were far from perfect when Jesus arrived on that first Christmas. His mother and father had traveled nearly a hundred miles, likely on foot, to be counted by the Roman Empire. To say that Mary was heavy with child would be an understatement. She was due to deliver as she and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, and there wasn’t so much as a bit of floor in anyone’s house to sleep on. The couple found refuge in an animal shelter – likely a small cave – and that is where Jesus was born.

In the lovely book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson writes:

Ralph and Imogene were there all right, only for once they didn’t come through the door pushing each other out of the way. They just stood there for a minute as if they weren’t sure they were in the right place – because of the candles, I guess, and the church being full of people. They looked like the people you see on the six o’clock news – refugees, sent to wait in some strange ugly place, with all their boxes and sacks around them.

It suddenly occurred to me that this was the way it must have been for the real Holy Family, stuck away in a barn by people who didn’t much care what happened to them. They couldn’t have been very neat and tidy either, but more like this Mary and Joseph (Imogene’s veil was cockeyed as usual, and Ralph’s hair stuck out all around his ears).

Things weren’t perfect when Jesus was born. And, of course, that’s the whole reason He came. Things hadn’t been perfect since Adam and Eve ate that fruit. The world has been messed up ever since then, with each of us living our own messy lives along the way. But God came to set things right, and that’s what He does for each of us.

Our homes and our lives don’t need to be picture perfect for Christmas. We don’t have to have it all together for Jesus to come to us. Let’s face it: we will never have it all together. Jesus (and Christmas) comes anyway. Jesus comes into or messy lives and, if we allow Him to, makes a home with us.

The only thing we need to do is make a little room for Him in our hearts and homes, and let Him come in and change us for the better. Let Him perfect us, as grace does to our nature. Let Him heal us and make us whole again.

Be not afraid.

Don’t be afraid to allow God in when you feel the most messed up, because that’s the exact moment when it’s most right to let Him in. That’s when God can do the most good for each of us.

Text and images ©2016, Christine Johnson