December 15, 2010 | 12:13 pm

Wednesday – The Mess of Christmas

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations in which we can’t believe that “this” is happening to us. We show up for work only to discover we’ve been terminated. We come home for the evening and are told our spouse wants a divorce. We get a phone call in the middle of the night informing us we’ve lost a loved one. In a split second our world is shattered, and we wonder if we will ever recover and be whole and happy again. As we sing “Joy to the World” at Christmas, we forget that this is how the Christmas story begins. Joseph, a carpenter, is happily engaged to Mary. I imagine that they must have been excitedly planning their life together. Then Mary drops the bomb on Joseph: she is pregnant. The problem for Joseph is twofold. First, it is definitely a societal “don’t” to be pregnant and unmarried. Second, and most importantly, he is not the father! After hearing this devastating news, he plans to dismiss her quietly so he can go his own way—and who could blame him. It is in the middle of this mess that the message of joy, peace, hope, and love is revealed. I find great comfort in this. If these things can only be found when we have our stuff together, then there isn’t much hope. But the message of the birth of Christ is that unexpected, positive, and miraculous things can arise out of the painful places in our lives.