For to us a child is born,Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Why do we feel like everything has to be perfect for Christmas day?
All up and down our street, people are getting their front yards organised; there is mowing, weeding, and mulching going on. It is as if that first impression when the family arrive needs to be perfection.
The reality is no one will spend much time at all at the front of the house. With the weather forecast of 42C in Perth all that need to be perfect is some sort of cooling (pool, aircon, ice blocks). We won’t be hanging around the front of the house looking down the street comparing. We will be getting inside into the cool!
But it’s not just about appearances either. We hope that this Christmas all the kids will just get on, and we want this year to be the one where that uncle doesn’t get rolling drunk. We want all our relationships to work out perfectly.
When we look back at the first Christmas, perfection isn’t mentioned. In fact, for Mary and Joseph their first Christmas was far from ideal. They were displaced from their home, had to undertake a journey over a number of days while Mary was pregnant, and then, when they got there, they struggled to find a lodging. And let’s not even talk about the tension between the two of them when he found out she was pregnant!
There is no mention of a beautifully manicured lawn. There is no mention of perfection.
Yet in the middle of this chaotic, messy set of circumstances, with a very messy set of people, Jesus enters our world. To a displaced young couple, in a basic lodging he is born. He enters their imperfect circumstances, and he enters ours. For the passage from Isaiah above says, “to us a child is born, to us a son is given”.
One of my favourite names for Jesus is Immanuel which means “God with us”.* He is with us in the heat, and the arguments, and the burnt turkey, and the mess of wrapping paper. He is with us even when things don’t go quite as we planned!
So, as you go into Christmas Day tomorrow, don’t expect it all to be perfect but look for Jesus in the midst of the imperfect. For he is always there.
Merry Christmas and peace be with you,
* Matthew 1:23