As the New Year knocks at the door of this world, I’m contemplating about the past holiday season. Unless you’ve been living in a Norman Rockwell painting, there is no “perfect Christmas.” Most of us have holiday stories from the hilarious to the harrowing, and every year, more than often, the expectations we have for a “Merry Christmas” far exceed the reality. It starts even before Thanksgiving as soon as the holiday paraphernalia hits the big box stores. We are wooed, tempted and lured into the illusion of the perfect holiday; the perfect tree under which perfect gifts are perfectly arranged for that perfect night with imperfect family and friends. Hmmm….it’s interesting how commercialism has such power to make us believe in something that really doesn’t exist. In fact, the only consistently perfect thing about Christmas is the One who came into this imperfect world to save it.
There was nothing perfect about the first Christmas. In fact, it was a train wreck of a mess. A glorious mess in which a young girl’s life is changed by a surprise pregnancy. Accompanied by a shocked fiancée, they walk over 80 miles to his hometown which is bustling with so many people that all the hotel rooms are full. She goes into labor and Joseph is wishing he had let family know he’d be in town. But can you imagine that conversation?
“Hey, Uncle Levi. I’m going to be in town with my fiancée for a few days for the census. Can you put us up? And oh, by the way, she’s pregnant… but not by me.”
So they crash in a cave that’s used as a stable for farm animals complete with the mess and all the smells produced by their mess. She’s in excruciating pain, scared to death and wondering how she got picked for this incredible responsibility. She gives birth to a perfect baby in this imperfect world.
For a moment, the world stops, she rests, and the young family gazes on the face of God.
And then the first visitors show up – not a sweet grandma or a best friend. No, these are some mangy-looking, smelly, wide-eyed vagrants fresh from camping out in the fields.
You know the rest of the story. And God keeps writing the story on our hearts. He is constantly intruding into our messes because that’s how He operates.
“He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah 61: 1
So, I figure if the first Christmas was far from “perfect,” I’m released from trying to create perfection in my Christmas. I’ve let go of my expectations for the perfect holiday (and the perfect life.)
Instead, I’m leaving perfection up to a holy God. I’ll take each day one glorious messy moment at a time.
And I figure I’m in good company.