The second week of December always seems to arrive with a flurry of activity. The departure of Thanksgiving and the two or three weeks anticipating Christmas clips forward at a rapid pace. Programs are sung and danced, Christmas trees are lighted, presents are purchased and children eagerly count down the days.
But ironically, with the celebration of advent, peace is what this week is to represent.
Bethlehem-Peace for all mankind.
Let those words sink in as you exhale. God’s peace was sent for us at Christmas. Hallelujah!!
Specifically at Christmas peace can look a lot of ways. Hot chocolate by fires, the smell of cinnamon cookies, and cold crisp air permeates our senses. In many cultures there are gatherings embedded in the Christmas holidays that produce a place of quiet and reflection. Somewhere there is a small pause to think about the beauty that surrounds the season. The trick is to find it, and embrace it.
Jesus wasn’t born into a perfect place, at a perfect time, in a perfect situation. Jesus was born into a mess. I recently was reminded of this.
See if you can connect with any of these.
A long awaited mess of a frustrating silence with the promise of redemption that seemed to not be coming to fruition.
An unanswered prayer.
A mess of people frantically paying taxes to Caesar.
A demand from others to meet obligations without resources.
A mess of people harried from days of hard travel, spending long days with their extended family and all the quirks that go with this.
Interpersonal relationships that are pushed past limits.
A mess of a young girl who was found to be pregnant long before she was culturally “accepted” or “expected ” to be.
Criticism for decisions made.
A mess of not being able to find a place to rest weary bodies and tired minds.
Physical strain in stressful situations.
The Christmas story, found in Matthew and Luke, are surrounded by messes that overshadowed the brilliance of the quiet arrival of the King of the World.
Regardless, Emmanuel, “God with us” showed up in every single instance.
All of these situations may have produced feelings of hopelessness and loss of joy. The people involved during this time faced the same feelings we face today. Messes have a way of engulfing us. We fret and worry and feel the strangle of the tentacles attempting to pull us under.
But God delights in coming into what we think are messes.
Our view of a mess is God’s place for a miracle.
The Christmas story began with a couple who were faithfully doing their jobs for the Lord. Zechariah and Elizabeth had a secret that kept them constantly in prayer to the Lord. In Luke we see this couple petitioning the Lord for his blessing of a child. How many years they prayed this prayer, we don’t know.
But we do know that when God granted them this gift, Elizabeth proclaimed “Thus the Lord has done this for me”. (Luke 1:25, ESV).
God performed a miracle in the middle of what those around them thought was a mess.
Turning our attention to Mary, we see God’s words to her in fear and uncertainty
“Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, ESV)
In these short verses. it feels like Mary just picks herself up and skips away with a song that she will obey.
But her respectful questioning and quiet pondering gives us a more accurate picture.
She was scared. She was confused. She was anxious. She didn’t understand.
We need someone to bring peace into our messes when we feel like this. We need someone who has authority to rescue and redeem. We need Jesus. At the perfect time, in the perfect way, He showed up.
I would imagine that when Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, both beautiful ladies nodded in tearful joy as they shared the secret things God had given to both of their hearts.
As I have thought about this, I think of my own “messes” I feel I am in the middle of, or have walked through. Loss, hard relationships, financial strain, significant life changes all top my list the past four decades.
These experiences have shaped me and given me a view of Christ that I wouldn’t have understood in any other way. Elizabeth and Mary experienced the same.
Like them, I have been scared, frustrated, and anxious. I have looked at impossible situations and thought “there is no miracle in this”.
God always has our best in mind. He always comes close and hears our whispers.
He takes the unhealed and heals.
He loves the unlovable.
He puts back together the broken-hearted.
He provides for those in need and want.
He turns sadness into joyful dancing.
He puts down swords of fighting and bitterness and surrounds them with a blanket of peace.
He redeems the lost.
What mess do you feel like you are sitting in? God is ready to perform a miracle for you. Take the mess and hand it over. Don’t try to take it back. Don’t try to place blame. Don’t try to figure it out. Get on your knees and ask the God who made you to right the wrongs. Ask Him for wisdom and peace. Depend on Him for hope and love. Step into the stable and behold the wonder of the first Christmas. Open the door and take the present.
It was in the middle of a mess, that God Almighty was the miracle!!
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word”. (Luke 1:38, ESV)