“Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:11-12
For the past two Wednesdays, the children of our congregation have been practicing for the annual Christmas program. Mary, Joseph, shepherds, sheep, angels, wise people, Herod, the whole gang. We’ve been singing carols, practicing lines, and working on getting the microphones set up right. And when I say we, I mean about half a dozen adults whose time and effort are making the whole thing possible.
Despite having plenty of adults and what I thought would be a fairly straightforward script, the best word I can think of for our rehearsal last night would be simply: chaos. The sheep were everywhere, the sound system needed adjustment, and I dropped my stack of song sheets at least twice.
Yep, chaos was the word. I remembered my theater directors in high school assuring us that a chaotic dress rehearsal meant a great performance, but even that didn’t quite comfort as I had hoped. How could the Christmas story be so chaotic?
Just as soon as I asked myself the question, I realized how absurd it was. The birth of Jesus all those years ago was no Hallmark movie. “There was no room” for the Holy Family– in other words, it was crowded that night in Bethlehem! Mary laid the baby “in a manger”– so there must have been animals around. In any case, the arrival of a baby is always chaotic one way or another!
It is okay for our Christmas preparations and celebrations to be chaotic, too. It’s even good for this season to be chaotic! The chaos of Christmas programs, holiday gatherings, even shopping malls and grocery stores can all remind us that God shows up in chaos. Now, that I could find comfort in. God turns up when it’s too loud, too busy, too disorganized, just too much altogether.
It’s not exactly a “Silent Night,” but seeing God show up in chaos is really something. Even the chaos of preschool sheep wandering around, cheerfully bleating as loudly as they possibly can. Even the chaos of last-minute shoppers all trying to get the right Christmas ham. Even, yes, the chaos of your heart and mind trying to keep it all together for two more weeks. God shows up in the chaos. Are you looking?
God of calm and chaos, open my eyes to see you even in chaos. Give me faith to trust that you will show up no matter how chaotic my life seems. Amen.
By Pastor Beth Wartick
Trinity Lutheran Church