And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7 (NRSV)
Of all the places Jesus could’ve been born, he entered the world in a dingy, stinky, loud, messy, cold, grimy location for feeding animals. Can you just imagine the pungent cloud surrounding his birth, creating an environment that nearby nostrils and exposed ears would deem unholy?
Still, Jesus entered the world as a tiny helpless baby to an unlikely couple in a most repulsive place.
Similar to this young family and the many violent, crude, and unpleasant realities of their day, conditions in our day are a vile mess. We’re not doing things as well as we could. We feel helpless when unexpected tragedies invade our lives. We struggle to truly see, listen to, and respect each other, which results in deadly and devastating outcomes.
Still, God enters our world surrendering power, through peculiar people and in bizarre places we might never expect.
That’s the beauty of this story we’ve told throughout the ages and will continue to share today and for countless tomorrows. No matter where we are in our lives, no matter what kinds of chaos we encounter, God has already been there, God is there now, and God will continue to be right there with us. In economic hardships, in preventable disasters, in political mayhem, in society’s margins, in every circumstance, God is with us, always and forever.
Sweet Baby Jesus, remind us of the holy beauty that can and does emerge from the stank messes we humanfolk create. Empower us to diligently participate in revealing God’s realm already here on earth. Amen.
The Rev. Phiwa Langeni is the Ambassador for Innovation & Engagement of the United Church of Christ. They are also the Founder of Salus Center, the only LGBTQ resource and community center in Lansing, MI.