But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
As I’m looking around our house 12 days before Christmas, I realize that nothing is finished. The tree is up and lit, but only about four ornaments hang from it, haphazardly placed by our boys from early Christmas presents. Neither of our manger scenes are out, as their respective tables are full of random clutter—a fish tank with no fish, 12 jars of peanut butter that were supposed to be taken to the food pantry last summer, a box of play scripts that won’t be used until February, books that have popped out of my overflowing bookshelves. There’s a basket full of clean laundry in the middle of the living room floor, as well as a plastic tub that formerly housed Christmas tree lights and which my 4 year old is now using as his personal gymnastics vault.
Our Advent wreath hangs in the closet as its spot on the dining room table is being occupied by mail and schoolwork. My Christmas candles are only up because they’ve been sitting in place on the top of the china hutch since last December. You probably wouldn’t notice them amidst the layer of dust. The boys’ Christmas tree is sitting on the couch in the living room because I ran out of hangers for their clothes. And the kitchen has been taken over by grocery bags, newspaper ads, and cups. The whole house has the appearance of being undone.
And do you know what the remarkable part of it all is? I don’t care. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like for our house to not look like a federal disaster area, but I’m perfectly fine with a sparsely ornamented Christmas tree. I have no intention of making a bunch of Christmas treats that I’m not going to eat. The kids and I are doing nightly Advent readings without the wreath. And, Baby Jesus will get to his manger whether the fish tank gets moved or not.
When you really think about it, having an “undone” Christmas is what the story is all about anyway. An unmarried couple is having a baby. Their country is occupied by a hostile foreign force. The baby arrives far away from home. There is no mother, sister, aunt, cousin around to help with the birth. There’s not even a room, just a barn. And the first people who come to visit are unclean, uncouth sheep herders. It wasn’t quite the perfect moment we work so hard to make our Christmas celebrations out to be.
We spend so much of our time, energy and money during the month of December trying to get it all just right. Yet, God the Creator of Heaven and Earth came into a world where nothing was right. His people were living under the suffocating oppression of the Roman Empire. His creation was floundering under the devastating power of sin. The world was a mess. The world is a mess. But, God entered into it anyway. God entered into it because it was a mess, and He remains within it today, working through us (and maybe in spite of us) to set things right.
So, this Christmas, let things come a little undone. For it is in the places that seem most undone in which God will enter in.
Blessings and Peace,