Christmas must seem like such a peculiar holiday. A story surrounding what from the outset seems like devastation. From the perspective of this young girl who is pregnant and misunderstood. From this young man whose plans are ruined. The parents now forced to live with the shame of a grandchild with so much mystery surrounding his father. We know who the baby is and we trust Mary because we have read the end of the story. But they didn’t know the end of the story because it was still being lived. I don’t think you can truly comprehend the tension of this story until you come to grips with how devastating it must have been for all involved. Sometimes when God shows up he ruins everything. That being said, sometimes everything needs to be ruined.
When God chose to come through Mary’s life, the collateral damage was pain and shame. This pain and shame would have been felt in concentric circles emanating from Mary to Joseph and to her parents. There is no way around this news, it was devastating. We need to believe that God was born into Mary’s pain, her shame and devastation—because if we believe God grew something beautiful through her blood sweat and tears, then there is hope for us. Perhaps in my devastation God can grow something wonderful. That redemptive hope is fuelled by this advent story. And my prayer is that whatever is growing through my pain and anguish and my devastation, that when it finally comes to life—that it looks like Jesus.
So this week care about your shepherds, and your inn keepers, your cousins and crazy uncles, your neighbours and foreign visitors. At some point in your life you were everyone of them. Search the sky’s for stars and follow them wherever they lead but not at the expense of looking down. Those who only look up will never find the stable. God came to dwell among us. Emmanuel is God with us. An earthly perspective sees the stable as an act of desperation. For the divine it was an act of incarnation. For God chose to show up in pain and tears, surrounded by filth and stench. I believe what led the shepherds to that manger was the glowing of a mothers trusting heart, that all will be ok. God had not abandoned her, he was inside of her. So in your desperation, in your search for God, may you look around your stable wondering where he is and stop long enough to look inside.