It’s here. It’s officially here. It’s the Christmas season!
Some of you actually took “Christmas in July” seriously and everything is sitting in a closet all ready to go. Some of you have been decorating since Halloween. Some of you have been pinning to your Christmas Pinterest boards for much longer.
Some of you spent a warm day in early fall upgrading your exterior outlets to handle the extra lights or giant inflatable you plan on using this year. Some of you started on those Hallmark Christmas movies as soon as they were out.
If you’re like me, you didn’t really plan ahead at all and now you’re feeling the rush of the season.
Excitement is in the air. People are “merry” and “bright.” Speaking of “peace” and “goodwill.” Looking for the perfect gifts (at the best deals) and making the best treats and crafts. Posting the happy moments and making sure the pictures tell a good story.
But, it’s also something else—Christ-mess. M-E-S-S. The mess may look different from one person to the next, but it’s there.
Some of us are in a mess. Perhaps circumstances of our own making, perhaps not. Maxed out credit cards. Bills we don’t know how we’ll pay. A diagnosis we never expected. Appointments that make us nervous. Family members holding a grudge, who don’t call or won’t explain. Loved ones making choices we don’t understand. An empty seat at the table.
Some of us are a mess. We want things that are not good for us. We want things that are not ours. We want things on our terms, by our timing. We wish we could be happier, thinner, younger. We wish we could hold it together better…especially when people are looking.
The mess is a reflection of our fallen world. Romans 5 provides a theological description of how Adam’s sin brought death and suffering into the world. Because of that first sin, we are all born sinners. We are fallen people in a fallen world.
Romans 5 also provides a contrast: Adam and Christ. Adam’s disobedience brought sin. Christ’s obedience brought salvation. This is our hope. As Christians, we know our sins are forgiven and our relationship with God has been restored. We have a confident hope! This is good news. It’s the best news. It’s the most important news ever. This is what we celebrate.
We know that in this Christmas season we are supposed to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas. And we do. But what about the mess?
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22
Groaning about the mess we’re in.
Groaning about the mess we are.
It’s all still messy.
Christ in My Mess
Christ-mess! My husband asked me if I thought anyone would be offended that I put mess with Christ. So, I thought about that for a while. I thought about the story. You see, for Christ to be obedient and bring the hope of salvation to our fallen world, He had to come into it.
Emmanuel – God with us.
Christ with us.
Christ in our mess.
Christ in my mess.
We know the story. Dirty stable. Rags. An unprepared father and a mother in misery. Not one part of His earthly life fit for a king. Poverty, suffering, loneliness, temptation, rejection, disappointment. He knows the mess. He knows our mess. He knows my mess. He knows your mess.
When I found out I needed to share a devotional, I started with our National & Global posture of being a Loving, Sharing, Praying, and Learning people. As I felt God leading me toward a mess message, I thought I was off the hook for connecting it back to that.
Then, He showed it to me. There it was. Read with me a couple of verses out of Romans 12 from the New Living Translation (read the whole chapter when you have some time this week).
Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Romans 12:12
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” Romans 12:9
Enter the Mess
Two of our postures—praying and loving.
We can rejoice. We can celebrate because this is the season that marks Christ coming into our mess and bringing us hope.
As you experience the mess, be patient. Keep on praying. Pray about the messy stuff. Pray with each otherabout the messy stuff. When I say messy, I mean messy! He cares about our messes—the big things, like broken relationships, financial troubles, chronic illnesses, or unfulfilled aspirations.
He cares about all things:
The stable and the rags. The wine at the wedding. The loaves and the fishes. A bad night fishing.
The strong-willed toddler who won’t listen to you. The fender bender on the way to the store. The file you can’t find on the computer. The weight you can’t seem to lose. The headache when you still haven’t finished grading or doing homework or finishing work. The coworker who is late again or being the one who is late again. The teleconferencing that doesn’t work.
Be patient. Keep praying. Keep doing it.
That other verse—really love each other. Love each other in the mess. Love each other through the mess. Intercede for each other in the mess. Do what He did. Enter the mess.
You’ve heard the saying, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Today, think, “Keep Christ in Christ-mess.” Invite Christ into your mess. Invite Him into the messes around you. Live out the story of Christ in the mess.
Have a Merry Christ-mess!