The Munson family has a special treat in store this Christmas. Our first grandchild will be baptized into the Christian family on Christmas morning. We’re so grateful for brothers and sisters at Wesley UMC in Hadley, MA who promise to model prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness as Jack grows and for their pastor, Rev. Byungmoo Lee. During 20 years of moving with the US Navy, we raised our own children expecting those promises to carry throughout the UMC connection and were not disappointed. I’m encouraged now by conversations in our churches asking young parents what will help them raise their children and root themselves in the faith.
I hope that all will go well on Christmas morning but I expect that, given Jack will be 10 weeks old, there may be surprises. Isn’t the unique behavior of each human being one of the joys of being alive?
As Christians, we are preparing to leave the season of expectation, getting ready to meet the real Jesus being birthed into God’s ongoing creation. I love the gorgeous nativity scenes of this season. But I expect the real thing may be messier. In fact, if we were to recreate the real nativity we might encounter some difficulties in our sanctuaries. How could we rebuild the rock hewn walls of the original manger and layers of animal presence built up over time?
And if we are to create the reality of God’s nativity in our lives, we are likely to encounter difficulties tempting us to head off on our own, in another direction altogether. N. Gordon Cosby once preached, “If you feel you can’t tolerate the mess, the only advice I can give to you is: choose what is for you a better mess, if you can find it. But wherever you go, you go to the next mess. You may take a couple of years to find out how messy it is. But you will find it to be a mess. “ ( p. 151, By Grace Transformed, in the section called, “Overcoming Fear”)
There it is……reality. It’s a glorious, curious, aggravating, exhilarating mess. What are ya gonna do?! That’s the question, isn’t it? What am I going to do with Christmas, with the gift God has given of entering the mess with us, with me? My great satisfaction last week was wrestling my “to-do” list from 10 to 2 pages. But that didn’t answer the question. What God expects to know is what I am going to BE in response to Christ’s becoming one of us. What are we going to help each other be? Scripture’s Christmas story gives us a meeting place for remembering, dreaming and promising. The Gospel According to Matthew reminds us that could get messy. Joseph's learned listening skills will be critical for God's plan. The “can do” church starts with “can be.” The practices of our membership vows create community worth belonging to as they shape us to be those who seek and serve the One loving us enough to choose to be here, no matter what.
May God’s presence and promise, celebrated in this season, birth Christ’s deep peace and love in your lives. Karen
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.