I jumped the gun a little yesterday. I started us on the journey to Bethlehem before the angel had announced the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph.
That’s actually not a bad thing. I think so often we make the nativity so neat and tidy. I love my nativity set, but I know the wise men weren’t there at the same time as the shepherds and the angels. I know that the animals weren’t all lying calmly down, heads turned towards the peaceful baby in the mother’s arms.
The truth is a lot more messy than that…
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth,
a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married
to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.
Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman!
The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.
He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.
And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!””
When the angel appeared to Mary, she was confused and disturbed. It wasn’t the easiest moment of her day. The whole story from beginning to end was full of moments that were difficult and messy, because the truth is, God comes into the middle of our mess. And by his grace and mercy, God makes our mess holy, turning it to his purposes.
Thank God for that!