He will be wrapped in rags, lying in a feed trough, surrounded by animals — kind of like one of your shepherd kids would be. In other words, here’s how you will know the Messiah when you see him: You will find him in the middle of a big stinkin’ mess!
The whole reason this is Good News — to the shepherds that night and to us right now — is that we really are all messy people. Every night, well dressed and manicured people appear on television and tell us how the world got a little messier today. We manage to mess up every single area of life: relationships, finances, work, family, the environment, the Church (especially there), our conscience, our habits … the list can go on and on. In fact there’s not a single place we haven’t managed to mangle … And we can’t seem to fix any of it!
So the angel says, “Here’s the Good News: God is not afraid of your mess.”
Say what??? Our God doesn’t seem to care how messy our life is. It couldn’t be any messier than where He chose to come to earth. He was born in a mess — wrapped in rags, laid in a manger — and he died in a mess! And in between his first day and his last day, he mostly hung out with messy people, seeming even to prefer them!
We make Christmas really pretty, with red velvet bows and evergreen branches and all that. But the real story of Christmas proves that you do not have to clean up for him. Cleanliness, it turns out, is far from godliness. If anything, it’s in the middle of our messiness that God shows up! God is love and only love. In God there is no hatred, desire for revenge, or pleasure in seeing us punished. God wants to forgive, heal, restore, show us endless mercy, and see us come home.