A Very Clumsy Christmas

I love children’s Christmas programs. I love watching kids act out the story of a miracle that took place over 2,000 years ago.

Only in a children’s Christmas program do angels sing off-key and shepherds stumble against the backdrop as if they are trying to bring it down.

Only in a children’s Christmas program do you hear that an evil king was “determinated” to kill baby Jesus.

Only in a children’s Christmas program do you see a four-and-a-half-foot angel climb up on a chair so she can scream at Joseph and Mary to “GET OUTTA THERE!”

And only in a children’s Christmas program are we reminded that Christmas is a little bit clumsy. Yes, clumsy, as in: “done awkwardly or without skill or elegance.” Because, while the Christmas narrative was perfectly orchestrated, it played out in the most awkward and uncomfortable of ways. It was clumsy…

Clumsy like an awkward teenage girl being visited by an angel and finding that she has been hand-chosen by God to bring the Messiah into the world. Clumsy like agreeing to this miraculous conception when she, like the rest of us who have ever answered “yes” to the call of God on our lives, didn’t really know what she was getting into. Clumsy like stumbling her way to Bethlehem in the final days of her pregnancy only to give birth in a dirty, smelly stable.

Clumsy like the shepherds who abandoned their sheep to see this child for whom the heavens had split open. Clumsy like the wise men who alerted the king of this impossible birth as they hurried to bring the newborn king the most unusual of gifts. Clumsy like being awakened in the middle of the night and hastening away to Egypt until the threat of death exists no longer.

Somewhere over the last 2,000 years, we’ve perfected our hymns and polished our performances until the Christmas story is something that plays out effortlessly in our minds, but I can’t help but think that the real Christmas had all of the elegance of a stage filled with elementary-aged kids, stumbling over their lines and completely forgetting their stage directions.

The King of the Universe came to earth with little fanfare, revealing Himself only to a young woman, her betrothed, a handful of shepherds, and a few wise men. When you look at it that way, the Christmas story is beautiful in its simplicity, miraculous in the most ordinary of ways, and absolutely, 100% clumsy.

This year, as you remember the story you’ve heard a thousand times, I pray you see it through new eyes.

May you have a very clumsy Christmas and a joyous New Year.

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