A messy Christmas for the rest of us

Some things should be clean. I think restaurants and hospitals should be clean. The tools used by my dentist should be clean. There are lots of things that should be clean in this world. Employees should wash their hands before returning to work. I am less concerned about construction workers or bus drivers than I am about doctors, nurses, and anyone that would touch my food. Clean is good.

There are other things that I am not so sure that need to be clean. An office, for instance, should look used and lived in. My office could have been cleaner, at least that is what the folks from A&E’s “Hoarders” said when they stopped by to help me get organized. Besides, is a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind? Or, is a clean desk a sign of a cluttered drawer? Oh well, there are things that should be clean and there are things that should be less clean and a lot more lived in.

For instance, let’s look at the Christmas Story. Not the one with Ralphie and the Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time. I’m talking about the first and original Christmas Story where Jesus is born in a manger to Mary and Joseph. Maybe modern movies make it a little more realistic and gritty. Most of the things I’ve seen, like paintings, show a very quite Jesus and two tremendously serene parents who are bathed in light emanating from Jesus’ crib. It’s all too pretty and clean. I don’t think it was that attractive or calm or clean.

Gerard van Honthorst

Mary is a young girl, 13 maybe a little older, engaged to Joseph. She is a virgin. The angel Gabriel visits her and tells her that she is highly favored. This makes her a little nervous. Maybe she was thinking of Job (Jōb – long ‘O’). He was a righteous man that God pointed out to Satan. This was not a great thing for Job. He lost his wealth, family, and health in that book. Yes, he was made whole again with a new family and everything, but it wasn’t an easy road to travel.

Mary is favored by God and she gets to have a baby out of wedlock. This isn’t going to be any easier for her, it appears. This news will disgrace her fiancé and her parents. As a bonus, Mary could have been stoned.

Can you imagine the scene of her telling her parents?

“Mom. Dad. I thought you should know that I’m pregnant.” Mary’s father starts looking for some kind of weapon and mutters, “I’ll kill him!”

“Dad, it wasn’t Joseph. I’m still a virgin,” she says as she tries to calm her dad down. Her mother weeps softly.  “This is God’s baby. I promise.” I don’t think her parents said, “Oh, as long as God is the father, we’ll go get the nursery ready.”

I think it was a really difficult time, but it was a time that God saw them through. Christmas is really more like that than what we celebrate today. Today it is happy songs and lights and presents and stuff, but it started out on a different note.

Maybe Christmas needs a little cluttering up. Someday Jesus will return and in that day Jesus will replace our weeping with joy, our death with life, our chaos with peace, our sorrow with gladness, and our hatred with love. Until that time, we still have friends dying from cancer and other diseases, friends whose marriages will end, and we will continue to send our children and loved ones to war.

If I am going to have any chance of a Happy and Merry Christmas I need room for my doubts and sorrows. I need a Holiday where I can pray for Jesus to come and come quickly. I need a Holiday where my faith will become sight and my hope a reality. I need to celebrate His arrival, but more importantly I need to wait for his return. And for that to happen, I need a Christmas that is lot less clean and a lot more complicated and cluttered. I need this so I can know that I am not alone in what I am going through. Maybe that’s what we all need. What do you think?

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