When Christmas Is All On Your Shoulders

I lost the “cheat” sheet to my Jesse Tree ornaments. Seriously? Who does that? There are as many variations of Jesse tree scriptures as there are people, I think. Each image corresponds to a story in the Bible. Who do these sandals belong to? The shepherds? There’s a tall building with the sun setting in the background? It’s not quite tall enough to be the Tower of Babel – and wait a minute, why isn’t the Tower of Babel represented here?

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It amazes me how “messy” Christmas really is.” Baking cookies, sprinkling them with colored sugar, the glitter, the fallen pine needles – the the Jesse tree with its missing stories that I have jumbled back together. The Advent readings you miss. The presents that you hope that will evoke joy, and always fall short. And yet, we keep trying every year to cover all of the flaws that come with the season with twinkling lights and a swipe of frosting.image

The Jesse Tree, if it is anything, is a chronological representation of human failure. Every single pillow, lined up on my yardstick corkboard, are stories of messes. Rahab with her red cord; David with Bathsheba; Abraham and his servant, and even a lowly stable.

Here, in my powdered-sugar covered floor and countertops, the Jesse Tree hangs on the wall, pristine – yet documenting one human mess after another — a mirror of our own lives.

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But I keep wiping off the countertops, trying to get it right, thinking of the perfect gifts, and fixing the bows, knowing I am running out of time and energy. But I have to thank Ann for this… I saw it while scrolling through Facebook, and it stunned me when I saw it – Christmas is coming, whether we’re ready for it or not.

Really? I’m not making Christmas happen, all by myself? This isn’t all on my shoulders? There is no “good enough?”

That Jesus came, while his people were messing up and failing – and he didn’t wait for everyone to get everything perfect before he showed up.

imageIt’s takes a bit of working it around in your head to get there – but when you get there; you can find the freedom, and the joy of Christmas. This elusive gift that left us in childhood when we became the caretakers and the orchestrators of everyone else’s dreams. When you drop the lies of what you’ve heard about not being good enough for Church, or the gospel, and realize that broken people are exactly who He came to hang out with – to help. And you can step back in the background and just enjoy the presence of love. And no, that’s no myth, and no fairytale.  This just “is.”

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