I am into Christmas more than I have been in years. I usually don’t get into it. If I had my way I wouldn’t put up a tree, stockings, or lights. Well, maybe a few lights but thats it. I would still watch Elf just because its hilarious. I haven’t gotten into the whole Christmas buzz in a while. For the past couple years there has been some big things going on in life through the holidays. So the stress has kinda outweighed the joy.
This year though I am finding myself in awe of it all. I’m looking at this story of Jesus and his birth and just laughing. I am choosing to be more conscious about the story I’m listening to.
I was asked to teach about a movement called the Advent Conspiracy. It is a movement within the Church to not spend as much during the holidays but then to give more away and worship God more throughout the season. The main thing I came away from that teaching with was to be conscious of what story I’m listening to this season.
There is one story that is told to us by the marketers, other consumers, and massive corporations. This is the story being told to us that says that the house has to be decorated, cards need to get out, presents need to be bought, that we need to be busy and get caught up in the buzz that surrounds the season.
There is another story. This story is not glamorous. This story is about God becoming human. This is an excerpt from the teaching I did about the Advent Conspiracy: “The first breathe that filled Jesus’ lungs was filled with the particulate of manure and straw. He was born in a place that most moms today would make sure to bathe their kids in Purell after leaving. Through the contractions, screams, breathing, and pushing of young girl named Mary Jesus entered into this world in a way that showed a solidarity to the poor and the left out. The first announcement of the messiah, the person that would be the culmination of all that the bible was and is, was told to Shepherds. I know you have heard this before.
God entered this world just like you and I. His entrance involved screaming, pushing, blood, amniotic fluid, and placentas falling to the floor. The cord that he drew the foundations of his human existence from had to be cut. It was gritty, real, and messy. No one puts that scene on a Christmas card. It looked nothing like the nativity scene that was on my grandparents mantle with the slightly chipped orange lightbulb sticking through the back wall of the stable.
Then the first record we have of visitors to this scene are shepherds. Really God? You send the culmination of your plan for the redemption of humanity and you tell shepherds? You couldn’t come up with a better plan? Shepherds? I know when we had our child some of the last people I would choose to be around my newborn would be grimy, dirty, smelly strangers. Imagine this group of very rough around the edge guys who smell like they have been sitting in a field around a fire hanging out with animals (because they had been) knocking on your door, without warning, as your wife is nursing your newborn son. They say that angels told them to come here and see your kid. Then because angles talking to people about this kid seems normal at this point you let them in.
Christmas isn’t about what the marketers tell us it is about. Jesus was crammed into the middle of a bunch of pagan festivals and traditions surrounding the winter solstice. The Jesus story does not have anything to do with what Christmas is about because it never was until someone from the church crammed him into the middle of mistletoe, evergreens, and presents. The birth of the messiah. The birth of the culmination of everything the story of God is about has nothing to do with evergreens with lights and tinsel. It has to do with God coming for the not so good. God intimately involving the grimy, dirty, and smelly into his story. It is about God breathing my air so I could one day breathe his. It is the opening sequence of the last installment of the trilogy. Its the beginning of our story. Its about God becoming man so we could be his children.