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A Message from Pastor Hoffman

1712 PrH advent 0631

The Messiness of Christmas

Joy to the world, peace on earth, good will to all people, and God bless us everyone--this is what we think of when we say Merry Christmas to each other. Love, joy, peace and good tidings, this is what Christmas is supposed to be about. But there is a messier side to Christmas. 

Yes, Jesus will be born to bring peace and goodness to all people, everywhere; he will calm the storms, feed people by the thousands, and heal the sick; but, before all of this, he first interrupts, disorders, disrupts, and shakes the stable, predictable foundations of the lives of a young girl and her betrothed. Imagine yourself to be Mary or Joseph, going about your life, anticipating your wedding, minding your own business when an angel bursts in and says, “You are favored by God, so much so that you are going to have a baby.”

Scripture says that Mary responded by saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  And, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior; for you have looked with favor on you lowly servant.” And after encountering his angel Joseph took Mary to be his wife and raised Jesus as his own. But mixed in with the obedience of their best days had to be doubts and fear. Surely they endured shame and sharp tongues, harsh judgments and lots of finger pointing.

It is true, Jesus will be born to save us, but our salvation is not the result of a sweet, sentimental, serene birth.  Salvation is ours because Mary was willing to endure the shame of becoming an unwed mother; because Mary was willing to risk her life to give birth without the aid of doctors or a midwife; because Mary was willing to endure the pains of labor for a child that was not her own; because both Mary and Joseph were willing to accept the demands of pregnancy and the disruptions a new baby brings; and because Mary and Joseph dared to believe in the promises of God and to trust that indeed, nothing is impossible.

Even more so salvation is ours because Jesus too was willing to endure shame, to risk his life, to endure pain, and to accept the demands and disruptions that come his way, because he too was chosen by God.  And like his mother, Jesus would believe and trust in the promises of God, his father, even in the face of death. 

We don’t always think about the messiness of Christmas, so here is a reminder that as cute and sweet and sentimentally perfect as Christmas is, know that it has come at a great price for a young girl and her betrothed.  And in the midst of the chaos that hits the moment the first gift is open remember that disorder is as much a part of Christmas as is peace, joy and good will to all.

God bless us, everyone;

Merry Christmas




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