Our small group watched a speaker on the message of Christmas last night. The speaker was Louie Giglio and we saw him deliver this exact thing last year when he toured with Chris Tomlin. It's funny how you can get something entirely different from the same words. Only from the living Word. So, I'm completely plagiarizing his message. But I thought it was so applicable I've been thinking about it all day.
The first thing he does is set the scene for the actual story of Christmas. Mary, at FULL TERM PREGNANCY, has to ride on a donkey, for taxes, of all things. She's with Joseph, who is not even her husband at this point. And everyone is probably thinking she's a tramp. (he didn't say that but that's what I think). So, it's tax day, they arrive late, there's no place for them anywhere, so they go hang out in a cave. With dirty animals. And through all of this Mary's prayer must have been, "Lord, PLEASE do not let this baby come tonight." Labor is scary; she had no one she knew to help her. It's messy. It's bloody and awkward and painful. And she was in a stable, far away from her family, while her not-husband, who is also not the father, is dealing with taxes. All in all, it was one of the most stressful days of her young life. And, though the Lord didn't answer her only prayer, He was working through her in amazing ways. He was at work, fulfilling an awesome promise and doing something beyond her wildest dreams.
So the very first Christmas was a pretty awful day, in many ways. My heart is so heavy for people in my life going through terrible, scary times. It's hard to see it anyway but it's even harder to know that they're facing this at Christmas. But what's amazing is to realize Mary and Joseph were too. And the Lord came down to the middle of it all and met us here, in the messiness of our humanity, and is offering us joy in the midst of it. That is what I want to hang onto this Christmas, that God is with us here, in the middle of all this. That He's working, active, has a plan, and it's for our good. Even when our only prayer is going unanswered. Because we know Jesus is God's word incarnate, and He is full of grace and truth.
And why is it a surprise if Christmas is messy and hard? The very first one was. The only thing perfect about it was the baby.
So, this year, while we spend time with family and friends, I will fix my eyes on the baby. The only thing eternal and life changing is the baby. And He came in the middle of the mess we've created and offers unspeakable joy. A chance at life, a FULL life. I'm so thankful he came, so thankful he completed his work. And He lives! The most amazing thing of all is that he STILL LIVES! So this year, I'm focusing on what was perfect then and is still perfect now.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.