Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Stable Mess

We have curated the Nativity scene to fit our needs. It is often clean and cozy, gentle and serene. But that is the opposite of what Jesus’ first night on earth would have been like. Even from the distance of a stable or cave or whatever the shelter was, there was the unmistakable din of the sound of thousands of people descending into narrow streets of Bethlehem. It was a Census year, after all.

The stable would have been loud. The mooing of cows, the clucking of chickens, the uncomfortable rustle of straw. Not to mention the annoyingly bright star that shown overhead, when all new parents would want was some peace for their new baby to fall asleep. They must have forgotten, in the thick of things, that the Prince of Peace was right there with them in the chaos.

Maybe they could hear the herald from the angels, as a shepherds received the good news. But how much less were they expecting visitors when they had still to wipe up the muck of birth, when Mary was still damp with the sweat of such a midwife-less feat.
But God does not make mistakes. He could have made it easier; simpler for a young woman and her husband to have a baby who would grow up to be the Savior of the world. But instead, God embraced—even chose—the mess.

All through December I run across wonderful Advent one liners as I read books and articles and posts on social media. Last week I saw this one, a quote from pastor and author Ashlee Eiland. She wrote: “Your mess is a suitable stable for the Light of the world.”

If it wasn’t, God would have become Immanuel some other way. Despite what those in Herod’s palace thought, God’s son was not going to be cradled in marble halls and clothed with fine robes. He came to be like us; He came to be with us. His birth, life, and death were messy—all so that He could show us the way. And in His resurrection we have this hope of heaven:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
- Revelation 21:3-5
We have this assurance: The King who traded the glory of the Throne for the mess of a stable, He is coming again, and this time He will bring order to the chaos, unsnarl the tangles, cleanse the stains, restore the fragments, and redeem the ruined.

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