God is a lousy wrapper, but a great gift giver. It seems like there is always some disappointment before the Awe.
Imagine Mary and Joseph’s Journey, the shepherds, the wise men. None of it was probably what they expected or hoped for. Imagine the disappointment of Joseph after a long journey. Mary riding this donkey, pregnant, exhausted, just wanting a place of rest. Joseph knocking on the doors and knock after knock disappointment as all the Inn’s are full. He has to settle for a manger, having to lay Mary down in a stable amidst the animals and mess to give birth to Jesus. Isn’t it something how our Lord comes to us in the mess? Don’t let the disappointment keep you from the awe.
I imagine there is a mixture of disappointment and awe for all of you today. You’ve probably been working and cooking, shopping and decorating, working and resenting, missing and grieving. Frustrated because you came in late searching for a parking spot, the kids aren’t dressed how they should be, and you can’t believe the dress your daughter picked out, you can’t find a seat. Your blood pressures rising, there was no room at the in. Maybe this Christmas already isn’t turning out to be what you’d hoped or expected. Maybe someone is not here that you wished would be, a plane delayed, or a distance too far. Your son or daughter who is away from the church or you find yourself at odds with your spouse, or you’re painfully grieving the loss of your mother or father or child or spouse. You’re out of work and you didn’t get that gift for your child. Even in that pain and disappointment there is wonder and awe because “God is with us” in all of it and working out our redemption in all of it. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
So here’s the awe… close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Let yourself enter that scene… the light shines in the darkness. Let yourself be wrapped in the light. Imagine it radiating from the infant Jesus lying in the crib. He is your gift today and there is no disappointment. He’s everything you hoped he would be. Take him into your arms and hold him. Feel his breath upon your face; listen to his breathing, look at his eyes so content. When you come forward to receive the Eucharist this is who and what you are receiving. Take him into your heart, hold him all day, let him be your peace, God does not disappoint.
Now see this awe in your family. Look through the disappointment. God’s light shines through the darkness. See his light and the wonder and awe in your child, in your spouse, in your brothers and sisters in a dear friend who went out of their way to be there for you. He is there. People do have a way of coming through and showing up when you least expect it. It may be a call or an email or an unexpected hug that breaks through your hardness. And the love that we share is beyond anything that could ever be imagined or hoped for.
Maybe you’ve given up on this love. Maybe have stopped coming to church because you have been disappointed. Please, take a chance with us, come back, journey with us, and make this pilgrimage of faith with us. I can’t promise that there won’t be bumps in the road; I can’t assure you won’t be at times disillusioned or disappointed because this is a church of saints and sinners, human and divine, awe and disappointment. But God is faithful. God is the light in the darkness, in the disappointment, in the mess, we will find Christ. Jesus came to us born in a manger. A child, innocent, vulnerable, maybe disappointing to some that God would come as a child. But in this child in this mess is eternal life, radiant dawn, wonder and awe, promise and fulfillment. In a few moments amidst all of us gathered here today, the laughter and the tears, the hopes and fears, the awe and disappointment, our God will come before us in his very flesh in the Eucharist. He is here, Emmanuel, God with us. I invite you to seek this child with us, travel through the disappointment and discover the awe by joining with us on this journey of faith and you will not be disappointed. We will stand together I awe and adoration as we gaze on the face of our newborn king.
Remember God is a lousy wrapper, but a wonderful gift giver. Behind the disappointing wrappings in life God is the best gift giver. Treasure these moments in your heart unwrap the gift and discover the awe.