As Andy Williams once sang, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Our homes are decorated, there are gifts under the tree, our kids are wearing cute outfits, families are coming together, feasts are being prepared, cookies are being baked, and festive drinks are flowing. We spend hours, days, weeks, and even months planning and prepping to make this season the best it can be. We create family traditions and soak up every moment of festive joy.
But in the beauty of this season, it's all too easy to get caught up in the culture of “perfect”. Or maybe it’s just me, but as I strive to carve out unforgettable family memories, I easily stress over the smallest oversight I may have made. I chastise myself for blemishes in my flawless plans and panic if Christmas doesn’t look like what I want or expected.
And can’t help feel that I am alone in this. When I talk to friends, when I look on Instagram, everyone seems to be swept up in the festivities. Instead of the season of peace and goodwill it seems like the season of stress, anxiety, and striving.
As a Christian, I believe that this is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. In the middle of a broken world, the Son of God came to earth as a baby. Majesty, beauty and perfection left the heavens and became Man.
And His birth was far from what we would ever have expected. Luke 2:11-12 says, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
Christ the Lord, the Savior, would be found in a manger. A manger is not a crib or a snazzy baby swing, but a structure used to feed animals. It’s something that you add to your Target or Pottery Barn baby registry, lest give to the Son of God!!! But that is where you would have found Jesus. Beauty, Majesty, and Perfection was inside a dark, dirty, messy animal shelter, not a palace or fancy birthing center.
This blows my mind and challenges the heck out of me, because I don’t want my life to be messy. I want the perfect Christmas with the clean house, the well-behaved kids, and a plethora of presents. I want a home where people come and there’s always food and laughter. I want my life to look like a Hallmark movie, not like the nativity! I don't want to be surrounded by lack. I want beauty. I want plenty. I want perfection.
Most people would have missed the birth of Jesus. Most people would have expected a palace, top physicians, and most definitely a clean nursery for the newborn king. But the magi and shepherds were looking for something different. They saw through the mess, the dirt, and the mundane.
I want to be like the magi and shepherds. I want to find something Divine even in the imperfections of life. I want to look past what I expect so I can encounter something priceless.
And maybe something so profound is actually happening, but we are fixated on our own version of the palace that we miss it. Maybe we can find beauty in our hearts and homes, no matter how hard we have planned, scrimped, and saved. Maybe we can embrace a glorious reality despite our expectations not being met.
So this Christmas, let us remember that the King of kings, the ultimate power, authority, and Creator was found in mess. And if that’s good enough for God, perhaps it should be good enough for us too?