One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly. ― Andy Rooney
One of the difficulties with this season is the feeling that everything in one’s life should be perfect for such a joyous time. And the disparity between that expectation and our lesser realities often throws in high and painful relief the ways that one’s life is far from neat and tidy. Churches sometimes offer “Blue Christmas” services to minister to this disappointment that comes from hopes we fear can’t be met. The mess of wrapping paper and torn open presents on Christmas morning isn’t the only mess in most of our lives.
But the Gospel is clear. God in Jesus entered in our lives despite their troubles. In fact, God enters pretty much at the point of their trouble — whether we read the story naming the macro-mess: the foreign occupation and grinding exploitation of one’s nation by a colonial power — or the micro-mess: the plight of a peasant family driven from home as quasi-refugees by socio-politic forces well beyond their control or fault taking up residence in an outbuilding only fit for animals.
Today, focus on an area or two of trouble, mess, unsettledness or brokenness in your life. And instead of worrying that it may well be your fault. Or that it is enough to dissuade God that you are not worthy of the Divine concern and care coming in Jesus… Realize, on the contrary, that these are the situations for which Jesus was born into the world. Actually, these are the places of hurt where Jesus is born into the world. To comfort and heal and redeem.
Much of the Advent spirit can be about cleaning up the messes in our lives in order to make room for Jesus to arrive. There’s a certain wisdom to that. Clean it up and straighten it up if you can.
But maybe it’s important not to duck the more persistent messes, the ones we fear we cannot do much about. And not to despair them either. But to pray and hope and look for Jesus being born right in the midst them — even when or especially because they don’t seem to offer any room for God showing up or acting to redeem them.
Extra-credit: Read Psalm 130 at least twice today, with a significant time between each reading. What’s God saying to you about the places in your life where everything is a mess and you can’t seem to do much about it?