Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Before the "Pretty"

                The toddler stands contently beside me.  I mindlessly wash dishes while he busily pulls every piece of silverware out of the dishwasher and throws it on the floor.  He is happy.  The preschooler stealthily sneaks into the bathroom and squeezes the entire tube of toothpaste onto the counter. I won’t realize it until two hours later.  There’s a salt dough map of America on my counter that is half done.  One girl calls for my help with her math problem. There are two appointments in the afternoon, and three scheduled activities in the evening.  The puke covered laundry from the stomach virus that made its rounds in our home this week is now starting to mingle with the normal laundry that needs to get done.  It's an average day.  There is more work to do than there is hours in the day, but soon it will be Christmas.

                I have to get the tree up.  Where are the ornaments?  Why can’t I get it together?  I look again at my Pinterest board.  The kids ask, “What about the light show?  Are we going ice skating?  I really want to make ginger bread houses again this year.”  Somehow I have to squeeze some type of homemade love into this crazy mess.  I need to package things and put bows on them.  There needs to be some "pretty".  There are traditions to continue!!!!

                And they will…  The traditions will continue, and somehow it will come together.  By the 25th, we will have managed to push back the crazy and pull out the special.  Our home will have the look and feel of the American Christmas that we all love.  But the Bethlehem Christmas is the Christmas that I need.

                Hope was born at the Bethlehem Christmas.  As a tiny wet-headed baby, wrapped in rags, breathing first-breaths of air, heavy with stench, He came.  Without the pretty or the bows, He came- just as God had imagined.  

               Soon, I will pull out my beautiful nativity.  I will arrange sweet Mary beside her Joseph, and then I will nestle the baby Jesus between them.  It will be so pretty.   But right now, there is a sink full of dishes, a floor littered with toys, and a soundtrack of bickering in the background, and my real, living Jesus is nestled down right in the middle of it all.  He meets me in the ordinariness and the messiness of today.  Before the bows and the pretty, He is here.  Like His arrival as a baby so many years ago, he comes today in the stink and the darkness.  The majestic King of all Creation, finds His place in my home because He loves me.  I’m not ready for Him, but He is ready for me.   I stand with my hands submerged in the dishwater and chest tight with worry, and the incarnate God is there with me.  I relax in his presence and inhale.  I remember the gift of God- my Jesus.  Again and again, Jesus breathes his Christmas morning peace into my every-moment-need.

              For my friends who may be reading this, I would love to say that I am on my way to your house to deliver a plate of fresh-baked cookies to you, but I am not.  So, please know you are so very loved by our family and by the Bethlehem Baby who truly was and forever-will-be, the perfect gift.

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