Advent-week one

It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss-
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight-
and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! Wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.
Into the Darkest Hour
 by Madeline L'Engle

My husband and I were at my daughter in law's family house the other day, and we walked over to see their horses.  Tho I am not prissy by any means, horses poop, a lot.  Surrounded by farms, the air was fragrant.  You know what I mean.  I lived on a farm for a while as a child and we could tell which way the wind was blowing by the smell.  One way was cow, one chicken, another pig.

In this season of Advent, I am thinking about that night.  Jesus was born in a stable.  Not the clean creche that you see outside churches without animals (or with only their plastic doubles), or their excrement.  Jesus was born in muck.  God came into flesh in a barn yard.

Hang with me a minute. 

When we "go to church," don't we get all cleaned up?  Most shower and fix their hair; many wear their Sunday best.  We go to the church, also cleaned up and decorated, for a sanitized program.  We, more often than not, do not have to sit beside someone who reeks of booze or whose clothes are so ragged and filthy that he walks in a cloud of dust.  We needn't worry about those who don't wear enough clothes, either.  Someone would surely catch them at the door. 

The worship team is attractive and excellent in their performance.  We do not even sit in cold usually, unless we are trying to demonstrate our solidarity with the less fortunate, and that is typically just the youth group, anyway.  Our worship is organized.  Children who could be disruptive are excused to their own worship service.  The language is educated, without the color of the everyday people's vernacular.  We have sanitized the church, scrubbing our sinful, helplessness right out.  No wonder people think Christians are hypocrites. 

Jesus wasn't born in our church.  He was born in a smelly, dirty, dusty place.  Traditionally we see him laid in this manger, this clean wood structure with fresh hay.  Only mangers I have ever seen are drooled on and chewed up.

No wonder we have difficulty bringing Jesus all of us.  We bring our giftedness, our cleaned up language, our hope, our fresh face and our best foot forward.  We leave our porn on our computers, our cigarrette butts at the door, our booze in the garage, our rage in our homes, our cheating at school, our depression in our car, our bankruptcy in our checkbook.

Jesus didn't come to hang out with the clean and educated and proper.  He came to this earth first to beasts and the men of beasts.  As an adult he surrounded himself with crooks, whores, rejects, and women.  In the end, he received the death penalty, as tho he was a serial killer altho he was really a serial life giver, and took his last breath in the company of thieves.

Why do we think we should be cleaned up?  Were did we get the idea that we should dress up our weekly mess into a Sunday best?!  What if everyday we bring our mess and let Jesus turn it into HIS BEST?  Isn't that why He showed up?  Not for us to clean up our outsides (like white washed tombs), but to show us that God can from the inside out.

Our hearts are barnyards.  Mine has been.  I have the old dried up stuff on the walls from past hurts and blow outs.  I have animal desires that rebel and buck my brain.  I have the stench of regret and shame with piles of mushy sin that I slip in when I forget to watch where I am walking.  In the past, whenever I knew Jesus might be stopping by, I would scrub and sweep and throw clean hay and rugs over the piles.  Could never really get rid of the flies or smell, but I did what I could to ignore them.

It gets tiring, tho, and frustrating.  I KNOW he can smell it.  Yet he smiles pleasantly.  I have watched his feet sink into a pile that I missed, but he just gently touched my head.  I know HE knows that I am faking it, trying to look good enough to entertain him, but he graciously, and patiently, loves me while he continues to make these visits, waiting to become a member of the family, more than visitor.

So, this Advent, I am welcoming my family, not just the earthly one, but the divine One.  My Brother is coming to visit.  When I hear his knocking, I will not hesitate to open the door until I can straighten up the place and spray Febreeze while lighting nice smelling candles.  He knows my struggles, and he loves me anyway.  I can be who I am with him as I am also becoming who our Father made me to be.  Together we can clean up my heart as we visit.  He has some interesting redecorating skills as he paints the walls with words.  Light shines in the darkest corners so that no trace of muck is hidden from our work.  The aroma of heaven fills the room.  My heart is being changed in much the same way that a barnyard was transformed 2000 years ago into a throne room. 


Jenn said…
Jaime said…
Glad to see someone read it! LOL Was beginning to feel a little self conscious. :-) Miss you, sis! said…
I always read it, Jaime! You do a wonderful job writing!! Maybe it will be YOU in the family to write the book Mommaw always wanted to!
Advent is my favorite time of the year. Advent points us towards the most important day of the year. Or I guess it might be better said as being the 2nd most important day of the year, following Easter and Christ's resurrection.

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