Christmas imperfections

Embrace the messiness that heralded Christ's birth

Dec 18, 2017 by

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The screams were interrupted by yet another festive tinkle of shattering glass. Another ornament hit the hardwood floor, sending shards of Christmas cheer in every direction.

The kids were helping decorate. Quality family time was making the first half of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! more and more plausible. It wasn’t merry; it was stressful. Perhaps the secular world was on to something with the invention and consequences of Santa’s naughty list.

Maybe it’s because we get only one Christmas a year, but the desire to get the holiday right — no, pull off perfection — can miss the whole point.

Big bows on overpriced cars in television commercials encourage an annual effort to make this one a “December to Remember.”

Social media pile on. The stress of keeping up with meticulously curated online personas can lead to tunnel vision, missing out on naturally occurring holiday magic in an effort to snap a photo sure to inspire Facebook envy.

But what about God’s gift of grace? Just as I am willing to love each broken cookie deemed unfit for the main event, God’s love was — and continues to be — poured out on broken humanity. The prophet Isaiah said the mountains would tremble (64:3) before the one coming for a people who are unclean, whose “righteous acts are like filthy rags” (65:6).

Our sanitized greeting cards and best Christmas pageants ever have scrubbed away the messiness inherent to Christ’s coming.

The actual setting: A road trip to pay taxes to a distant and ruthless government. A birth that, no matter how divine, was still disheveled and loud. Straw everywhere. Animals that haven’t been housetrained. Shabby shepherd houseguests arriving unannounced. The night was hardly silent.

Jesus’ lineage included adulterers, prostitutes and murderers. He called as disciples lowly fishermen, a tax collector, an anarchist zealot and the ultimate betrayer. He came neither from nor for the perfect.

That is our greatest hope and gift. God became one of us, making all things new, bringing hope and redemption with a baby that was at times bloody and screaming, just like us.

The gift of love and a resurrection that is eternal wouldn’t be worth nearly so much if reserved only for the unblemished. Christmas — the first chapter of Christ’s victory over death — is a beacon for broken lives.

After the fourth ornament met its demise, I went to fetch the broom yet again, finding nothing. My son beat me to it, already on his way to sweep things up on his own (without being asked!).

Christmas miracles continue to happen, but we may only be able to notice if we can see through the mess.

Comments Policy

Mennonite World Review invites readers’ comments on articles. To promote constructive dialogue, editors select the comments that appear, just as we do with letters to the editor in print. These decisions are final. Writers must sign their first and last names; anonymous comments are not accepted. Comments do not appear until approved and are posted during business hours. Comments may be reproduced in print, and may be edited if selected for print.

About Me

advertisement advertisement advertisement advertisement