No, the title is not a typo!
I mean, of course I do wish you a merry Christmas, but I think the reality is that often it can also be messy.
That’s not how we like to present it. It’s not always how we’d like it to be. We’d prefer peace and harmony, and for all the family to get along, for everyone to be happy and everything to go according to plan, but let’s be real about it: it’s not usually how it works out.
It can seem that everyone else has it together when we see the photos on social media or read the Christmas newsletters from the “perfect family”- but often these can be misleading.
Take the picture at the top of this post for example: a plate of Christmas cookies- freshly baked, golden brown, full of white chocolate and cranberry goodness, all ready for a Christmas party. Looks pretty good, right?
What this picture doesn’t show though is the scene an hour earlier. As I weighed out the flour for the cookies, I came to the end of the bag of flour but still needed some more. I remembered I had another bag on the top shelf of the cupboard, so I climbed up to get it.
I wasn’t expecting the tin of tuna to jump out at me… I certainly wasn’t expecting it to land in the flour I had just weighed out and send it flying everywhere! The kitchen honestly looked like a flour bomb had just gone off!
Fortunately I found the flour from the top shelf, finished mixing the cookies, put them in the oven, then began the mammoth task of cleaning up the flour, and eventually things were back to looking good.
Since I’m being honest here, I should also confess that the flour from the top shelf was a year out of date (I’m so sorry if anyone reading this ate any of my cookies!) but they still tasted absolutely fine!
It all ended well, but picture perfect it was not.
It reassures me that the first Christmas was messy too: the doubts and suspicion Mary faced over her unexpected pregnancy, the long journey to Bethlehem, no room at the inn, the Saviour of the world being laid down to sleep in an animals’ feeding box. It doesn’t get much messier than that.
Considering God had all eternity to plan for this, you’d think he could at least have sorted out a proper place for them to stay… unless this was part of his plan.
When Jesus took on flesh and became human, he came in humility, laying down his divine privileges to enter this messy world, to be part of it.
And he experienced it as we do: the joys and the sorrows, the laughter and the heartache. He entered into the mess, so he understands and he is with us in the mess, so we are not alone.
And into the mess he speaks truth and life and hope, because he is here.
Emmanuel- God with us!
So, messy or not, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and that you know Jesus as Emmanuel- God with you- filling you with peace, joy and hope.
“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79 NLT)