Let’s de-Hallmark-ify the Christmas story, shall we?
Instead of a warm and cozy barn – try picturing a dark, grimy cave, full of loud, smelly animals who aren’t fond of sharing their home.
Instead of a serene, beaming Mary – let’s imagine an exhausted teenager who just survived the risky business of labor, far from her mom and the beloved midwife who delivered all her family’s babies.
Instead of a relaxed Joseph quietly smiling down on his family – let’s imagine a tenderhearted man taxed by the stress of providing for his family. On his face, see the disappointment that a cave was the best he could do for God’s son. In his eyes, see the anxiety for Mary, forced to travel too far too late into her pregnancy. In his arms, picture the Christ child, whom he clumsily rocks in the wee hours of the night, whispering words of love.
Instead of ruddy, attractive shepherds – let’s imagine men who’ve been sleeping outside for days on end, who keep company with sheep, who are tough and fierce and burly enough to fight off wolves and other predators. Now picture Mary and Joseph welcoming that fearsome band of brothers into their tiny cave (which was already odorous, and now, whew!), listening to their stories of angels and good news for all the people. Can’t you see Joseph eyeing them suspiciously? Can’t you picture Mary snuggling that baby closer, heart racing?
And, instead of a glowing, smiling baby – picture a real human newborn. One who wails and poops and frantically tries to latch while his mom, wincing, coos her encouragement. One who doesn’t give his parents more than two hours of sleep. One who needs – biologically, desperately needs – to be held and changed and comforted and loved.
THAT is how the God who created the universe chose to come into this world. Forget the postcard-worthy scene of our dreams, and embrace the messy, smelly, disorienting scene of real life. Why?
Because that is how God still chooses to come to us. God steps right into our messes, stresses, failures, griefs, hopes, and fears, proclaiming the good news – “Yep, I can work with this.”
#Luke2 #Incarnation #Christmas