Are you a Christmas scrooge or a Christmas fiend?
The Christmas fanatic decorates the tree November 1st, revels in ugly sweaters, shops till they drop, fills on egg nog lattes, still believes in Santa Claus, and covers their house in yule tide trinkets including *gasp* tinsel.
The Christmas scrooge looks down upon the fiend. ‘Christmas’ prior to Dec 24th is too early, find it a personal slight they have to venture into overcrowded malls to buy a reciprocal gift so they can fit in, laments on how everyone is living beyond their means, can’t wrap gifts so uses newspapers or leftover birthday bags, and can chalk up their annual demeanour to some poor experience from years past.
The holidays tend to push us to the edges of both ditches as we struggle to find balance in the midst of chaos. Sound healthy enough for you? Maybe we can shoot for better.
The Hope of Christmas Future from Christmas Past
You know the Christmas card manger scene with three wise men, donkeys braying, shepherds, and bright shining star? Turns out it’s a hoax. The first Christmas probably looked more like this:
It was a balmy April along the desert sands. Joseph and pregnant Mary head off to Bethlehem to link up with the family after a census was called. They arrive well in advance of the birth, after all, who travels by donkey 2 days before their birth?
In the weeks and days leading up to the the birth of Jesus the chaos in the household must have been reminiscent of a big fat Greek wedding. It was so busy and loud that the only place Mary could find quiet to deliver was in the storeroom hewn into a rock face. It’s true, animals complete with hay and feed troughs would hang out in the basement. Here, amidst of the simplicity (some would say even the poverty), the loud family chaos upstairs, the labour, Jesus moves into the history of humanity with a newborn’s cry.
This Christmas morning is not only more accurate but I prefer it because it sounds a lot more like the Christmas’ I know. Who’s family gatherings aren’t crazy? It’s not the picturesque perfect Christmas found in the cards. Christmas IS found in the simple MESS. From relationships to holiday plans, things aren’t supposed to be perfect. That’s kind of the point.
Hope arrived in manger transforms into the hope all creation was and is waiting for. Jesus is the final and continuous answer to God’s ultimate dream of putting the world to rights. It is Jesus–God incarnate–who ventures below perfection to meet us in our ordinary and regular mess to glimpse for us unfettered love and joy.
This Christmas be blessed in the tension and chaos by a God who brings joy in the ordinary even if you feel as if it should not be so.
Image: "Messy Christmas" - by R. Rossmo Dec 18, 2011. Originally posted Dec 18, 2011.