I admit I laughed WAY too loud at last year’s church Christmas pageant when Mary #2 (for the times when a solitary Mary just won’t do) dropped Baby Jesus on his head.
Our 4-year-old Understudy Mary fumbled the baby pass, as parents sometimes do, and there went our Lord, tumbling onto the ancient yellow carpet to lay prostrate at the foot of the cross, sacrificed before his time.
I couldn’t help but think of all the times I’ve dropped my own metaphorical Jesus on his head, friends, because my theology slipped again, and I was uncertain whether I’d broken Jesus for good. So when Mary #2 cheerfully shouted “WHOOPS!” and swooped to the floor to pick up poor, mangled Jesus by his plastic legs to try again, I gasped a little, in joy and revelation, because that’s when God, whose other name is Love, leaned over and whispered to my soul, “That’s exactly it, Beth. That’s how faith works.”
Now, I’ve been to a lot of Christmas pageants in my time, and I’ve seen flocks of adorable sheep and herds of darling shepherds and gaggles of wise men in solemn procession. I’ve watched Marys and Josephs cradle their babies Jesus with an abiding love beyond their years. But I find I’m drawn every time to the parts that don’t fit and the people who stick out. I’m drawn every year to the children who trip on their robes and the boy who flips off the congregation and the girl who flashes her pink princess panties with her skirt over her head and the preschooler who sits down to pull his socks off through the toes of his sandals because socks are too stupid to be endured.
I’m drawn to the peacocks and the lobsters who were, apparently, present at the birth of Christ.
And I’m drawn to all the wonky bits and weird paths and the unexpected ways we see the Light and find our way to Love made flesh among us.
I’m over the sanitized version of the Christ story, I suppose. And it’s not because I don’t love the pristine and beautiful bits. I ADORE those. The love of a mother for her child. The angels singing en masse by the light of a brilliant star. The gold and frankincense and myrrh. Those are all intrinsically part of it.
It’s just that I want to know the other parts, too – the messy parts and the funny parts and the devastating parts.
The part about the uncertainty of an unwed pregnant teen.
The part about the foreign astrologers traveling to worship a homeless Jewish baby.
The part about a young family fleeing a genocide to become refugees and illegal aliens.
The part about a 4-year-old dropping plastic Jesus on his head.
And the part about welcoming the filthy shepherds and the drummer boy and the peacocks and the lobsters to the witness the bare, baby feet of God.
These to me form a more complete picture. And the more complete picture matches the messy life I’ve come to love.
This nonsensical, chaotic, smelly, heartbreaking, gorgeous life and the choice, always, to pursue the path toward Love.
This is why I value the Christmas story. Because it’s the wild ride by the Light in the darkness to fall at the feet of Love that saves us.
And that’s what I mean when I say I wish you a Very Merry Christmas.
If you’re looking for more about Christmas, I’ve added a section, “On Christmas,” at the top of the column to your left. There’s everything from The 3 Kings Were Neither 3 Nor Kings to 5 Fun Facts on Flying with Santa.
I invited the 5 Kids Blog advertisers (see the column to your right) to join me for 7 (and obviously more!) days of giveaways. CHECK BACK for a NEW GIVEAWAY EVERY DAY.
Today, our friend Laura of Guided Renewal is giving away one consultation valued at $100.
Laura contacted me a couple of months ago to ask if I’d consider a business like hers for an ad. And then she graciously put up with ridiculously LONG conversations with me about what, exactly, “guided renewal” and “energy” and “reading” mean to her. Laura is a fellow Christian who, like me, has had a hard time with some of the asshattish ( <— my word, not Laura’s — I think her word was “douchey”) things that go on in the name of Christianity; she’s eager to love people without regard to creed. Laura went on to explain that being gifted with the ability to pray for people and receive messages from God about blocks and openings – darkness and light – in their lives has been a process of acceptance for her. It’s not how she was taught to experience God, after all, but it’s been a wild, weird, and wonderful way to experience Love, for sure, and something she wants to share to help improve the lives of others. I was struck by Laura’s warmth, sense of humor, openness to hard and persistent questions, and her heart for helping people who are hurting.
Laura explains this way, “I want to help people. I think I have a gift for doing just that. I feel this gift comes from God and the gift is full of light and love and nothing mysterious or dark. I am a piece of the puzzle that can help people discover their best selves and move on if things are tough or keep on trucking on if things are going well. I work with anyone from any religion, point of view, philosophy and life style. I love and include all! This is an ongoing process and I love when people will trust me and become part of the process by letting me do a reading for them.”
A consultation with Laura includes meditation, intuition, prayer, concentration, writing, and an optional discussion with you. Please note, as Laura says, “I can give guidance in a way that can help people move forward. I am not a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.”
This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the Guided Renewal winner, Loren!
TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:59pm (Pacific Time) on Wednesday, December 25th. One entry per person, please. A winner will be selected using a random number generator and posted on Thursday. This giveaway is open to international participants.
Note: The 5 Kids Blog advertisers provided no additional compensation for these giveaways. Laura of Guided Renewal paid me for her ad only, and this just seemed like a fun way to work together for your benefit. OK? OK.