Posted by Craig Borlase on 24 December 2015

You know and I know and even the little toddler getting blitzed on haribo probably knows it too: the way we are encouraged to celebrate Christmas these days is a long way from the original. A long, long way.

According to the advertisements, the message of Christmas is about striving for polished perfection — the perfect turkey, the perfect gift, the perfect tree, the perfect family gathering.

The truth about the first Christmas couldn’t be more distant, more messy. It happened when a teenage virgin who was engaged to be married was visited by an angel and told that she was pregnant. Joseph was torn. Part of him wanted to believe her, but the other part thought she might be lying so he planned to divorce her quietly after a while. Then another angel appeared and freaked him out enough to put plan B out of his mind. Even so, Jesus was born with one of the greatest social handicaps of the day; rumours of illegitimacy.

Then there was the relocation in the final weeks of her pregnancy, the homelessness, the birth and the company of not just shepherds — who were the kind of people who couldn’t do anything else — but the night shift; the least impressive bunch of the least impressive career choice.

This mad scandal is captured by one single word: Emmanuel, God with us. And so we come to the heart of the Christmas story; God with us. Who does He choose to live among? The least of us. How does He choose to do it? In the weakest, most vulnerable physical form ever. Why? Because this is what God does. He steps in. He makes Himself accessible to us. He joins us in our mess.

Messy Christmas, everyone.

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