Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas
One of my favorite stories this holiday season came out of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. On one particular block, neighbors were growing weary of the growing potholes. After numerous failed attempts to get the city to address the issue, one neighbor decided to draw attention to the problem and have a little festive fun, so they put a Christmas tree into the pothole. I find that image to be a wonderful metaphor for the essence of what Christmas represents.
Sometimes we wish for, long for, have expectations of Christmas looking like a scene from an iconic Norman Rockwell painting. But the reality is that Christmas, like the rest of life, is not always postcard worthy. Our world has a lot of beauty in it. It should, since God is the one who made it beautiful. But our world has a lot of potholes as well, a lot of ugliness, pain, and problems, a lot of violence, injustice, loneliness, brokenness, hate, and anger.
Into our world of problems and pain is precisely where Jesus comes to camp out, to make his dwelling. Like a Christmas tree in a pothole, John’s gospel says that Jesus, the light of life, intentionally enters the darkest places of our world and our lives and abides there, puts up his tent there. Jesus does not wait to come into our world, our lives, our families, or our church until we can get the place spic and span, clean as a whistle.
Jesus enters the mess, lives with us in the mess, and loves us as we are, mess and all. Then Christ graciously says, I love you no matter what, but let me help you with that. Let’s clear the clutter that weighs you down so you can grow into a better life. Jesus takes our shame. Jesus enters our pain. Jesus doesn’t wait for us to get our messes cleaned up. He comes to where we are to love us as we are and makes a way for us to become who we were created to be.