Tthis morning during worship, a chaplain brought the message to our congregation. His focus was on the messiness of Christmas. I had to leave early due to a sick child, but his words in his introduction got me thinking.
There is a messiness to christmas. We want to wrap it up in a neat little package, with cattle lowing and a sweet baby silently viewing the world as the shepherds and Wise men greet him.
But rethink it from a Biblical standpoint. Young, young Mary was pregnant. Pregnant. And pregnant by the act of God. How does a father respond to such a thing? And Joseph, her betrothed?? How in the world was he to respond? This was not the stuff of Silent Night, Holy Night. This was the stuff of messiness, of shock, of crises, of belief or unbelief, of cultural impact.
Tonight during our church Christmas musical, baby Jesus cried and cried. Cried hard. And I thought, yes. That is accurate. Baby Jesus was surely not some extraordinary baby without basic needs. Surely He cried that first night, from fear, from cold, from hunger. And yet we like to package up Christmas into a neat present wrapped with a perfect bow. The baby born in the manger, the angels singing, “the little boy Jesus no crying He makes”.
But there is a messiness to the Christmas story. A messiness of chaos and shock. A messiness of a virgin birth. A messiness of a child messiah already under the wrath of a king afraid of losing his power. And, we should thank God for this messiness.
I don’t know about you, but my life is messy. My life that I had all wrapped up in a shiny package with a bow on top, with a fake exterior and a fake facade presented itself as having it all together. My package looked good. My bow looked good. And yet, just beyond that shiny exterior and pretty tied bow, was a whole bunch a messiness. A heart that did not believe in the Christ that we celebrated each Christmas morn. A messiness in not knowing how to love my family the way they needed to be loved. And a messiness of my soul that was dark and weary. And later on? A messiness that included a husband in prison and a divorce, shattering all pretensions that I still held on to of having a pretty, packaged life.
But you know what I have learned? I have learned, through Scripture work and through watching God work in my life and others, that God welcomes the messiness. Oh, he welcomes the pretty packaged life as well, but don’t be surprised when he opens that pretty packaged life to reveal the messiness that is inside. No, God wants honesty. God wants the truth of what a family’s life is, of what my life is. And he accepts it as it is, a package that is wrapped with unmatching paper, a torn bow, and extra tape to hold it all together. He accepts the messiness of my life and says Thank you. Thank you for trusting me with this.
I don’t know about you, but my life is messy right now. It is messy. It is full of doubt and fear and concern and anxiety. It is full of weariness and an attempt to hold all the pieces together. There is nothing NOT messy about my life right now, including my usually clean house.
And so tonight I come to God with the messiness of my life and plead with Him, ashamedly admitting that I’ve, once again, made a mess of my life, and asking Him to make some sense of it. To take my life and use it somehow. To take my life and shape it into what He would have it be shaped into, without the mess that I have made of it.
I am weary tonight. I echo the words of Agur, son of Jakeh. I am weary O God. I am weary O God and worn out.
30:1 The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle. The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out.
And yet, and yet there is something comforting in knowing that the birth of Jesus was Messy. It was not the sweet, carol-laden event that we make it out to be. No, it couldn’t possibly be. A young middle-school aged child was pregnant. By God. She had been betrothed to Joseph, who had to choose whether to stand by her or abandon her. They had to travel to a place where there was no room for them, thus giving birth in the stable, laying the baby in a manger. With a king out to kill the baby, and dreams sent from God to warn them to run to Egypt. No, this was a messy story.
And my story of how I came to believe that God is truth is messy. My story of my life since becoming a believer is messy. My life now is messy. It is a broken Hallelujah. And the only choice I have is to offer it on the altar and say to my God, here it is. It is not what I had planned. It is not what I had dreamed of. It is not what I had wanted it to be. But here it is in all it’s messiness, just like the birth of Christ. God please accept it. Accept it and do something with it, because the messiness of my life is beyond me. It is beyond me.
Thank you God, for being the God of messiness. For being the God of things not packaged in perfect paper in bows. Thank you my God for loving me in the midst of my messiness. May my messiness somehow be an offering to you, an acceptable offering of what I have to lay before you on the altar.