Our family watched The Nativity Story for the first time together. I loved seeing this story that I know so well unfold visually and stir up new thoughts, especially as we watched the slow-time, the down-time – the waiting. How many conversations, wonderings, questions, hopes and fears must have come to the surface in all of those moments? The late nights with Elizabeth, the whispers as the baby and her belly grew, questions as miles passed on the way to Bethlehem.

Yet what really grabbed me in a brand new way was this: the whole Christ-child event was messy. For everyone. God had been planning this event since the beginning  of time, and yet so often it did not look that way. It appeared unnervingly random: a very young, unmarried pregnant girl, a sudden totally inconvenient trip to Bethlehem, no vacancies in the entire town – how often did Mary or Joseph (or their families) wonder,

Does God really know what He is doing?

Surely He could have come up with a better plan than this! He could have chosen anyone, anywhere and had centuries of forethought. Why allow Mary to carry not only the child, but the intense shame that others cast on her with every day her belly grew, still unwed. Or why not choose a couple already living in Bethlehem? Why the long tiring journey for His chosen ones? Could He not have at least saved them a spot – that one last room, a little comfort for the birth pains now before her? No friends or family to labor the night away with her. Just Joseph. Just Mary.

His ways are not our ways. I would love everything to be predictable and sortable into nice tidy boxes, with plenty of time for preparation and planning. Whereas God loves the adventure, the surprises, the more. He is always seeing things we might miss, always concerning Himself with a deeper stream of activity and the internals as much as the externals.

The truth is this: He had lovingly, intentionally prepared every awkward detail. He chose young Mary. He chose their journey. He chose that little backwards stable. For so many reasons we already know, and probably a thousand we don’t. He absolutely knew what He was doing.

Thank you, thank you Jesus, for being born into such a mess. For beginning The Great Rescue in a way that is approachable for all: a way that was crazy, unexpected,and entirely out-of-the-box. Blowing away all formulas, again and again, with something way more transcendent and beautiful than anyone ever expected .

Thank you that though sin-free love and relationship with us was your plan A, you always had a plan B. Born to us this day, in the City of David. A Ransom. A Liberator. A Lover. A radical, sacrificial, over-the-top Plan B. You are such an expert at exactly that type of plan, still today.

Happy birthday, dearest Jesus.


So the three wise Men followed the star out of the big city, along the road, into the little town of Bethlehem. They followed the star through the streets of Bethlehem, out of the nice part of town, through the not-so-nice part of town, into the really-not-so-nice-at-all part of town, down a little dirt track, until it stopped right over … a little house.

But wait. It wasn’t a palace. And there weren’t’ any guards. Or servants. Or flags.

Or red carpets. Or trumpets. Or anything. Did they get it wrong?
Or was this what God meant?

Sure enough, in that little house – there sitting on his mother’s knee – they found him.

The baby King.

from a very favorite book:
the Jesus Storybook Bible

2 Responses to “A Merry Messy Christmas!”

  1. Em says:

    We watched it to this year. I was struck by the same simple, yet amazing challenge it was to have the baby Jesus. This teenager is pregnant- God goes right at it getting rid of the law’s rules from the get go! So much freedom for all us “Plan B ers”

  2. […] reading the Christmas story to our children this year, I shared with them the thoughts from my last post. Did Mary ever wonder how God could have orchestrated something that looked so … messy? Did […]

Leave a Reply →