Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Showing Up in the Darkness
In Sunday School, we watched this Christmas message by Louie Giglio. If you have time this season, I encourage you to listen to it while wrapping gifts or cooking dinner. It reminds us of the importance of the Christmas message in a way that is not just cheesy cliches or picture perfect manger scenes. His words reminded me that the gospel is both beautiful and messy at the same time. And most importantly, he reminds me that the gospel brings beauty to our mess. No circumstance is too disastrous that it can't be redeemed by our Savior and no moment is so lonely that the Savior can't show up.
We often forget the heaviness of Mary and Joseph's situation. Being chosen to carry the Savior may seem like a blessing now, but it was a scandal at the time...an engaged woman claiming that her baby would arrive via virgin birth! There must have been whispers behind their backs and judging eyes. People assumed Mary was promiscuous and a liar and they assumed Joseph was a fool. I wonder how many friends were lost and if their families doubted their story.
The two had just endured a long journey on what is one of the worst days of the year - TAX DAY. A pregnant woman who was likely feeling the normal pregnancy discomfort had just travelled bumpy roads on a smelly donkey. They did not have a lot of money and had no place to stay. No one took pity on them and welcomed them in. An inn keeper informed them of a place to find shelter -- probably not a lovely stable like in our nativity sets, but instead a dark damp cave on the side of the hill where animals found refuge at night and during storms.
And Giglio pointed out something I had never thought of: what was Mary praying that night? I think if we pause, we all probably know (or at least we women know) what her prayer was: Lord, please do not let this baby come tonight. Not here, not now.
But, we know the rest of the story...the baby did arrive. In the middle of what may have been the worst night of young Mary's life, a Savior came. The Lord broke his silence of 400 years in the most basic way -- with a human cry from a tiny baby in a dark dirty cave on a bad day to a scandalous couple. The Lord showed up in the mess.
The Lord shows up in our mess too! I have endured some pretty tough Christmases -- full of heartache, broken relationships, family tragedies, death, pain. I have also enjoyed wonderful Christmases -- with an engagement, family gatherings, friend's weddings, joyful moments. And you know what? The Lord showed up in each and every moment. He was there in the tears and brokeness just as much as the joy and celebration. Christmas solidified that He knew and understood because He came.
Christmas will not always be joyful memories and postcard quality moments. Some years, it will be hard to celebrate - but the reality that Christ showed up in our broken world and our messy lives is a message most needed by those dreading the Holiday season.
Our Savior showed up for Mary in her dark moments - and He will show up for us as well!