I like this story.

Usually I like a story for its humanity, its unexpected rawness, its up-close-and-personal resonance.

This one, too.

I forget the real story amidst the shiny red displays surrounding our manger scenes. Apparently manger-scene-Jesus is too holy to be held by his mother, and he glows and holds up a righteous finger while everyone reverently gazes.

Actually, I think that terrified little fourteen year old girl never let go of him all night. I think he fussed and screamed and cried and was red and sticky and soon got his diaper dirty. I think his body still felt fused to his soft, warm mother, and he shared the sacred bond of birth with her.  I think the creator of the world drank his mother’s milk, depended on her for life. I think he was terrifyingly helpless.

I think we’ve become Pharisees. I think we’ve gotten boring. We like things clean and reverent and we expect God to be far away and hard to talk to, when the whole point of Christmas is that he was born in a spurt of body fluid, he stank, and he felt that first horrible plunge we all feel– out of the womb, out into the harshness.

And the craziest thing is that he chose it. He chose to be laid in filthy, animal-slobbery straw. He made a picture to never be forgotten, and this is what he chose.

It says more about the character of God than any sermon you’ve ever heard. It reminds me that this is why I believe in him: no human could make up a God so frighteningly unselfish.

We’ve forgotten. We’re distanced God from our humanity, but our humanity is what makes us like him. God is more raw and real than we think.

Merry Christmas, and blessed be the name of the Lord.



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