Maybe you or someone close to you is sick this Christmas season.
Maybe you don’t have a lot of money for Christmas gifts.
Maybe you can’t visit family.
Maybe Christmas brings your feelings of grief to the surface.
Maybe you’re estranged from a loved one.
Maybe the state of the world (or your own community) makes it hard to feel “Christmas-y.”
Maybe you always try to have a perfect Christmas, one that reflects your happiest childhood memories or makes up for your feelings of disappointment.
But there is no perfect Christmas.
My wife is still dealing with her asthma, which has been seriously bothering her since early fall. We’re unable to visit family over the holidays.
No matter the season, life is still life.
There is no perfect Christmas.
As it happens, on the first Christmas . . .
A young girl, engaged but not yet married, becomes mysteriously pregnant after an angel visits, nearly resulting in a broken engagement.
This young girl—Mary—and her fiancé Joseph end up having to walk roughly 90 miles to go to Bethlehem, his family’s home town, to participate in a Roman census.
When they get to Bethlehem, they end up staying in what amounts to a barn. Because there’s no place for them to stay. Even though that’s where Joseph’s family is from.
After Jesus is born, Joseph is told in a dream to take Mary and their son and go to Egypt. Otherwise, Jesus’ life is in danger. That probably meant a trip of more than 300 miles.
This is before Uber and airplanes.
Mary and Joseph were told that their son Jesus would be the Saviour of the world but that he would also face great opposition.
I can’t imagine what all of this was like for Joseph and Mary. To have your lives be the means by which the Messiah, the Son of God, arrives in the world. No pressure.
Even the first Christmas wasn’t perfect. Yet, at the same time it really was.
Because this is how God works in the world. In ways that are messy, uncomfortable, unexpected, and sometimes even mundane.
Christ came into the world—Creator entered creation—to join us in our mess and to redeem it.
That includes your mess and mine.
Advent means “arrival” or “coming” and Christ comes to us in three ways. First, he comes in the incarnation as an infant boy more than 2000 years ago.
Second, Christ will come again to put everything right again at the end of time. This is his Second Coming.
Yet, there’s a third. That’s how Christ comes to us now right in the midst of our present circumstances. He wants to enter your life here and now. He wants each of us to experience his presence here and now. Not apart from your mess, but in the middle of it.
No, you and I will never have a perfect Christmas. Maybe we’ll undercook the turkey, wish we’d been able to buy our kids more gifts, miss loved ones, or feel under the weather. Maybe not everything will be “just so.”
But we can have good Christmas. We can have a Christmas that is more hopeful, more peaceful, more joyful, and more loving—all because, whatever else is going on—we experience Immanuel, God with us, in Jesus.
And that kind of Christmas is worth far, far more than one we might imagine as perfect.