It always seems around this time of year there is some kind of global crisis and tragedy that counters the message of the Christmas story. Don’t you have the same feeling?
The Christmas story portrays Mary and Joseph with their God given son. It is a moment when peace, hope, joy are part of a beautiful experience of God and mankind joining together.
Then we get those horrible human tragedies juxtaposed. Aleppo is a case in point. Aleppo is the human tragedy called by some ‘a holocaust’. The opportunity to prevent this tragedy passed a long time ago. We all know that even if we don’t say it. We hesitated. Now, how does one claim ‘victory’ when you have destroyed the lives of your own people? It must be difficult to sit at that victory table with such human cost.
Life is always messy.
The contemporary fanatics of the world refuse to accept the fact that life is messy. Religious fanatics, cultural fanatics, scientific fanatics, philosophical fanatics are all cast in the same cloth with slightly different colors.
These fanatics insists that their way brings justice and correctness to life so long as their rules are followed. They are correct, of course. Fanatics beat everyone into submission so that all mouth the same message, look alike, think alike and die alike in their emotional, spiritual poverty and desolation. It is okay because everyone agrees to be miserable, despondent and hopeless together aghast at the thought that life could be any other way.
The Christmas story has no fanatics. Joseph and Mary wouldn’t make it in the Middle East of our ‘modern’ world. They would be executed as unfaithful to ‘The Law’ . A young unmarried couple about to have a child do not fit into the strictures of a controlling religious culture. Joseph and Mary would also be sanctioned today by the very Christian religion that tells their story. Joseph and Mary as parents without marriage push the edges of Christian values too.
The Christmas Story about Joseph and Mary has all the tension of the modern world intertwined into it with the hint of a brave new world. (Perhaps it isn’t so brave but I like to think so.) It reminds us that nothing ever is smooth sailing. It takes God to organize the story so the facts point toward something great.
Most religions would bury the story of Joseph and Mary because it is nested in the messiness of life. God should be found on the highest mountain with the best parents humans could create. Instead the birth is placed in the valley where most of us live.
The Christmas story is in the face of everyone. Life is messy down here in the valley. We don’t have it all. We don’t know it all. We just know that God shines a bright light so we can find a way through the messiness. We desire to love ourselves. Our families. Our neighbors.
The anchors we throw at social institutions, programs, education are eventually recognized as landing in styrofoam. There is never any security or certainty in our human structures. We humans are restless to improve the world of our creation. Only the God story enables us to move through the messiness.
And despite the violence of Joseph and Mary’s time, the inhumanity to man, the imbalance of power (and every other ill you can think of) there is someone there to remind us to “not be afraid” of the known or unknown, to seek the goodness, gentleness, the power of godly thought and spirit that changes the world through kindness, service, love, opportunity, true wealth.
Read the Christmas story with delight. It talks of your experience and my experience finding our way through a messy world without the fear that stalks the human heart.
A blessed Christmas to you all