Advent: Week, 1, Day 3 – A Hot Mess Gospel

An empty manger at night under the fog.

For Advent this year, I’ve decided to read John Pavlovitiz’s devotional, LOW. These are my musings:

Life is so incredibly messy. For some of us, our daily lives are seemingly marred by sorrow, grief, and pain. And I imagine this was true even for Mary and Joseph as first century, Palestinian Jews. There they are. In a stable with funky camels and other farm animals. Soon to be on the run in ways Beyonce and Jay-Z could never imagine. Soon to be running for their lives and the lives of that sweet child God gave them. Mary, a teenager, forced to give birth in squalor. Nursing her beautiful brown baby in filth. Watching the joy and salvation of the world resting in a bed for goats. That’s about as real as it can get, right?

This, I think, is the hot messiness of the gospel. Sure, we watch our holiday movies  and sing carols in front of the shining, pale, bald-headed porcelain babies found in those terribly white nativity scenes. We think of Christmas as twinkling lights and peppermint mochas and collard greens and new game consoles. And well…in truth, nothing is inherently wrong with any of these things except that it is all so far, far away from what actually happened in that barn. It’s so far away from Mary’s postpartum anxiety and Joseph’s probable nervous pacing across the dung-filled floor. It’s so far from the truth that God in all forms meets us, saves us even, in the messy, dirty, places of our lives. Just like with Mary and Joseph, God rides out with us as we run away from systems and leaders who try to kill us, if not physically then certainly psychologically. God sits with us in our dark nights of the soul and sends a single star to guide wise people who will also sit with us and share with us gifts we could have never expected if we only focused on our circumstances. 

This, if I’m honest, is the salvation I long for in this season. 

Come Jesus. 



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