Sunday, December 25, 2011

The King in a Manger

"And while they [Mary and Joseph] were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:6-7)

Today as I was preparing to lead the liturgy at church, the quiet wonder of the birth of Jesus dawned upon me. The "firstborn over all creation" through whom all things were created (Colossians 1:15-18) could've arranged to be born in a penthouse at the Hilton. At the very least he could've sent his angels to the Bethlehem Inn ahead of time to make reservations! But no, Jesus laid aside his glory and deigned to be born into a messy stable and placed in a feed trough.

How often my life feels like a messy stable! We've been preparing for our first child's imminent birth, trying to get ready at school for long-term substitutes, cleaning our home, and trying to enjoy our last days together as just "the two of us." On top of that we have the daily struggles against selfishness, unlove, pride, and faithless anxiety and despair. And as we look forward to raising children over the years to come, we know that our desires for peace-through-control will be met with only greater chaos and frustration.

Yet into the middle of our mess, Jesus gladly comes without complaint. The old hymn reminds us, "Pleased as man with men to dwell / Jesus, our Emmanuel." The very nature of Jesus is God-with-us, God-in-our-crap, God-among-sinners, God-beside-imbeciles. It's who he is. Not that he has to be, but his love impels him to be. Christmas, the coming of the King into our mangers, can happen every day of our lives. This gives me a tremendous amount of peace. Jesus is just that loving, that compassionate. Even when my life's at its messiest, he's right at home.

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