On Tuesday night we had our neighborhood Christmas party at our house. It was just one of those nights. I rushed into the driveway at about 45 minutes from the start of the party with a half dozen bags of groceries around my arm. I threw a ridiculous amount of chili into the crockpot and then rushed outside to attempt to set up an outdoor movie for the kids. I unsuccessfully tried to set up an inflatable screen as all it would do was just get a little air in it and then flop over. Next I tried to get the projector and audio working but realized I didn’t have the right cords. Then the kids started to arrive. They were running around all over the front yard and then apparently one of the kids decided to deliver an uppercut to our inflatable Santa and literally punched his lights out. I walked over to where Jolly Old Saint Nick had been standing only to find a crumpled up pile of fabric….great start to our party!
After our chaotic start, the party did get under way and I remember just being in awe of how things turned around. I looked over our driveway and I saw kids playing together and moms and dads visiting with one another. What started off so insane and doomed to fail had turned into a wonderful moment. I wonder if that’s how Mary and Joseph felt on that first Christmas. Surely a week long hike to Bethlehem while very pregnant, staying in a stable with animals, being ostracized by their family and friends, and having to lay their first born son in a feeding trough wasn’t exactly what they had expected. God most certainly turned things around though didn’t He? The baby is born and angels appear to shepherds, the angel army also comes announcing that this is indeed ‘good news of great joy for all people.’ Wisemen come later on who had seen the star appointed by God to shine directly over Bethlehem. One of the lessons of Christmas is that God’s way of doing things is often very different than our way. The question for you and me is are we willing to lay down our version of how we want the story to go and embrace God’s version?