Messy Christmas: The Real Mission Impossible

A young girl – poor and pregnant with a boyfriend who is tempted to walk out on her yet holding onto faith...

A frustrated guy – concerned and confused about his girlfriend’s news of being pregnant in some weird way... yet, willing to stick with her and help raise a kid that isn’t his...

 

A gang of rowdy hoodlums – despised and disregarded in the social structure of society, claiming a crazy religious experience...

 

"Jose y Maria" by Everett Patterson

And a couple of backwater towns – one place known to be a place folks asked “What good could come from there?” and another little town tucked in the shadow of a great castle and city...

 

These are just a few elements we don’t typically think about when we look at the traditional nativity scene with a somber Mary with her halo and gentle shepherds holding a lamb.  If the events of 2000 years ago happened today – Where do you think God would have sent his Son to be born?  Who do you think he would have chosen as those to care for him?  And would you or I have set foot in the filthy back alley to worship this supposed newly born king?

 

The more I reflect upon Scripture and God’s heart for people, the more I realize what a Pharisee I am. It is far too easy to place God and the Christmas Story into a neat box with a glittery red bow on top and go about my 21st century life as I know it.  It is much harder to stop and consider the horrendous scenarios the first people involved in the coming of Christ endured. Then – if I do stop to consider this – what are the implications of that first Christmas for me today? Am I one who reaches out to those who have been living a hard life – perhaps in a ghetto or “the projects” where crime, drugs, and prostitution abound?   Am I one who takes a step toward the outcasts of our society – not to “fix them” but to listen, learn, and love them? 

We all have our different skills, gifts, and passions.  We are not all meant to serve the Lord by feeding the homeless. But can we honestly say we are willing to do whatever God calls us to do? Are we willing to take a step into an uncomfortable situation in order to allow God to do the impossible in and through us?

 

God himself was willing to take a risk: he was willing to send his Son into just such difficult situations.  He did not protect his Son by sending him to be born in a palace with guards and servants or among the wealthy with opportunities and privileges. Instead, he sent him to a most unlikely family where he would grow up a “nobody”...and, in the end, face execution at the hands of the powerful, privileged, and prestigious. That is the kind of love God has for you and me!  He sent his son into the messiness of life to restore and redeem the mess! 

 

In fact, the words the angel spoke to Mary in announcing she would be the one to carry God’s Son were perfect: For nothing will be impossible with God. This is true for us today.  God does the impossible by reaching into our mess to redeem and transform us; then, he empowers us to go and do the same – come along others who may not be the most “put together” so that God can do the impossible for them too. 

 

As we begin the Christmas season – I certainly hope you enjoy the Christmas carols and beautiful lights, the decorations and cookies. However, I also hope that you take time to reflect on the messiness of this holiday that we often overlook or ignore.  Take a step to open your heart up for God to do the impossible IN you so that you can then allow him to do the impossible THROUGH you – in essence, to love God and love your neighbor.  This is the very heart of Christmas itself – the heart of the Gospel.