I experienced my first Christmas in the Dominican Republic in 2012. It was the first time I had been away from my family for the holidays and completely taken out of the traditions I had known for my entire life. In that time, my thoughts would constantly drift toward what I would be doing if I was back in the states with friends and family.
That experience forced me to begin to disassemble all of the things I had made Christmas over time and all of the extra stuff (although none of it bad necessarily) that had crowded my perspective.
The next year, I was able to fly home for Christmas. The following year, moving back to the states, I was able to experience the kind of Christmas that was familiar to me, once again. However, both of those years , I found myself surprisingly wishing I was back in the Dominican Republic away from all the noise that this time of year can be. Christmas made bare by being taken out of what was “normal” for me had started to undo my perspective and craft a new one.
I sat outside this morning so my hair could air dry in this eighty degree, sunny weather back in the DR. On Christmas Eve (still weird).
I was thinking about what I read last night in part of my journal from a trip to the Middle East last summer. “Day 1 (6/15/15) Reflections: Dirty. Smelly. Damp. Dark. Poop.”
That first day, we threw our packs down at the mouth of this shepherd’s cave. We crawled down into the cave and sat in the dirt, breathing in musty air. I specifically remember our group leader saying, “I wish there was more poop in here.” He wanted us to fully experience the grossness of this place where shepherds brought their animals and to begin to grasp a fuller picture of who Jesus, God in the flesh, is.
I remember putting my hand in that dirt, completely unable to comprehend how undeserving the KING OF KINGS was to be born in a place like that. May we pause today, tomorrow, right now, and simply marvel at a Savior who is not sanitized, who is not afraid to step into this broken and messy world and our broken and messy lives. May we consider the invitation that He extends to just meet us where we are as we reflect on His birth and why He came here and the cost of His death, that we wouldn’t miss it. May we allow His grace and love to burst forth in our lives and the lives around us as we yearn for Him to come, once again.