“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant…” Luke 2:46-48
Those words of worship which Mary lifted to God could be paraphrased to say, “Thank God for showing up in my mess!” In a nutshell, that is the good news of the gospel at Christmas time--that God has shown up in the messiness of this world by the miracle of the word made flesh. As we read Luke’s account of the Christmas story there is no doubt that Jesus sure showed up in a mess. He was born to a man and woman betrothed but not married; having a child out of wedlock— a child that wasn’t biologically Joseph’s. Jesus came into this world at tax time, in an overcrowded city, with no rooms left, and no nurses or midwives available. Jesus drew his first breath in the dark of night in the messiness of a stable full of animals. Jesus entered a messed up political climate where a deranged dictator named Herod murdered infants and forced Joseph and Mary to flee with their baby boy. The messiness of Jesus’ life didn’t stop at birth. He was often unwelcomed, hated, and eventually wanted dead. Of his own twelve disciples—Peter denied him, Thomas doubted him, Judas deceived him, and the rest deserted him.
The messiness of our world hasn’t changed much since Jesus time. We still have personal mess—things that happen in our own lives and families which we try to hide out of embarrassment. We still have social messes and injustices where poor people around the world don’t have access to basic standards of living just as Mary and Joseph had no access to a sanitary place to give birth. And we most certainly have political messes that have divided our country and all nations of this world—causing much shouting but creating few solutions. The human race and our society are utterly broken. We still deny him, still doubt him, still deceive, and frequently desert this Jesus who came to this world to save sinners like you and me.
Yet the good news of Christmas—good news of great joy that is for all people—is that he did come! Jesus chose to take off the regal robes of heaven and put on the fragile robe of human flesh, entering fully into the frail human condition even as messy as it is. Jesus chose to enter our mess—a mess that we made, so he could rescue us and redeem us. Jesus took the mess of humanity to the cross of Calvary and performed a transformative miracle! Jesus died in the mess of our sin and through a miracle of love he saved us. Lord knows the month of December can be a messy and stressful time on many levels. But let’s not miss the miracle that God came down into our mess to rescue us and to transform it all by his love. Let us live into the miraculous love of Jesus, even as we navigate daily life in a messy world. For this Savior, our Emmanuel, goes with us all the way!