God can bring a Message out of our Mess
One of my consistent reflections during Christmas and the Feast of the Holy Family this weekend is that God is not a perfectionist. I’m not saying God is not perfect; that would be contrary to Christian belief. I’m saying that according to how we understand perfectionism, God’s actions in the Christmas story don’t seem to hold up. We think of perfectionism as meticulously and carefully controlling all the variables of a situation so that it might go exactly as we plan. That hardly seems like the Christmas story…
Imagine how different the Christmas story would be if God were a perfectionist … accommodations would have certainly been prepared for them, either with Joseph’s family or at least with a reservation at a local inn. A bed would have been readied for him; if not a more comfortable or ornate bed like royalty, at least a respectable bed with plenty of cushioning. Probably a midwife to help Mary during labor and delivery; instead of Joseph, who was likely little support. How about some family support around; some of Joseph’s relatives there to support Mary and share the good news with her. And how about time to recuperate instead of having to rush off to salvage her child from a crazy dictator.
Instead, the greatest moment in human history was full of messiness – no room accommodations, child birth in a stable, an animal trough for a bed, and an emergency departure. What does this reveal about God? It reveals that God enters into the messiness of human life. We don’t have an elitist God that only enters into situations that are perfect or that he’s comfortable with. Instead, in the midst of the messiness of that night, the message of God’s love was revealed through the birth of this little child.
As we approach the Lord this Christmas and on this Feast of the Holy Family, with all of our personal baggage and all the dysfunction and messiness of our family lives, may we be confident that Jesus can bring a message out of our mess this year.