Meeting Jesus may mean muddy jeans
He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.
Two Christmas cards arrived by mail today. One had the word J O Y across its front in glossy red letters. The other was a montage of photos of a toddler. In a happy, loopy font read this sentence: “It’s a wonderful life!”
How much joy do we reflect in our wonderful lives? That may depend on how hungry we are, or how hungry we have been. That also may depend on how hurt we are, or how hurt we have been.
Here’s another question. Do we really know how blessed we are, or do we realize we are blessed only after we’ve experienced some great pain?
There is a weird sentence out there. It’s this one: There is gain in loss. Sometimes it still makes me wonder, “Huh? What does this MEAN?” Gain is gain, and loss is loss. There is no gain in loss.
But Christ is coming. This royalty, the Prince of Peace being born near poop? Yeah, that flipped everything end over end.
The rich and the well-to-do stayed away from Jesus then and often stay away now. Why? They want no part of this King in some lowly cradle—if you can even call a cow food holder a cradle.
God makes us get down and dirty. More than a little uncomfortable. We want our King of Kings like we want our California King mattresses—puffy, pure white, and perfectly luxurious. Heavenly. Easy. Clean. Neat. Pretty.
The Luke version of the Baby Story doesn’t include the obvious—that ox and lamb stink, and that shepherds don’t bathe often. This is a really low story, the down and dirty, and it is here in unclean humanity that God chooses to arrive. Why? It’s because when we travel to low and smelly places, we will, like those first travelers, behold the face of God in the one who, well into her forties, could still benefit from orthodontist work, or he works with his gnarled hands that, no matter how many times they’ll be washed, will always be stained and gray.
I’m not knocking the two cards that arrived today. Thank you to their senders. I’m glad to hear from you. I’ll be glad, too, when someone who smells like a barn says to me, “Come, let us adore Him,” and we do just that in the bowels of humanity itself.
Prayer: God in the flesh, let me come on bended knees, and may I smile after I stand and notice that even gallons of Spray-N-Wash will never get my jeans clean again. Amen.