A last word about my least favorite Christmas song

I don’t know when you stop listening to Christmas music, but for me it’s still running till New Years. 

My least favorite Christmas song is Away in a Manger. Not only is the melody sort of sleepy, I just don’t like that line that Jesus “no crying he makes.” Come on folks, he definitely cried.

But I was thinking about the moment when Jesus was asleep. Asleep in a dirty feeding trough. 

Maybe Mary was also asleep and Joseph, first time dad and first time doula, was trying to clean up after the messy ordeal of being a birth coach (“where do I put the placenta?” etc).

It was, without question, a mess

There’s nothing about the Christmas story in the gospel accounts that leads me to believe it was neat and tidy. There was no nostalgia, no Christmas dinner, and no presents (the magi came years later). The visitors smell like sheep, and none of Joseph’s relatives invited them over.

More than likely, there were some parts of your Christmas that were messy. Family is messy. Wrapping paper is messy. Snow is pretty for a while, then it gets driven on and becomes slushy and grey.

Soon it will be New Years, Valentines Day, Easter, and summer. The temptation in every season coming will be the same as the one we are just exiting: to clean it up a bit. What if next year… you didn’t?

God entered (and took personally) the mess of our lives. He isn’t uncomfortable with the untidy. Maybe we don’t have to run away from mess, or be so afraid of getting our hands dirty. 

What if this year we leaned into people’s mess? What if we were a bit more courageous to look at our own? This year I’m going to try to “shush” my kids less, spend time listening to my grumpy neighbor, and (take a deep breath) and ask, “what’s it like to be on the other side of me?”

Mess is uncomfortable, and worth it. Thank God, we don’t do it alone.

After all, Jesus entered our mess. And slept in it.

p.s. my new friends Pat, Karen and I recorded a podcast where we talked about simple and messy Christmas. You can listen to it here.

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