It is late and my house is quiet.  The lights on the Christmas tree give the only glow to the room.  Christmas Eve is only a few hours away.

There is a simplicity in the quietness tonight.

The nativity scene looks so serene and dignified sitting nearby.

I don’t suppose many people would buy a realistic nativity scene, one where Mary looks like a 14 year old girl scared and “great with child.”  A messy nativity, would leave us feeling uncomfortable inside.  Mary and Joseph would look like refugees, worthy of profiling questions about where they’d come from, why they needed a place to stay and where they would be heading and who their known associates were.  Jesus was born into a mess, unwed parents, who had a unbelievable story to tell that sounded ridiculous and crazy.

I think we’re supposed to remember the real story.  I think we are supposed to take note of God choosing a young girl to carry His son, unwed and vulnerable to accusation, judgement and scorn.  She and Joseph have a difficult story to say the least.  The whispering must have gone on for years and years, as it does in most small towns and tight communities.

It feels to me that often we try to clean up the story, as if the real story is something too shameful to be sacred.

Tonight I am grateful for the real story, the messy one with the unwed 14 year old mother of my Savior; the one with Mary, Joseph and Jesus knowing the pain and shame of accusation, judgement and scorn, while choosing to say “yes” to God’s crazy plan for their lives.

The real story is about the light of the world coming to shatter the darkness.  Light that was born in the middle of the night, in a obscure stable, because there was no room anywhere else.

All of us have known our own experience of shame, accusation, judgement, scorn and not being wanted, having no place to rest.  Some are knowing it right now and it feels dark, leaving you to wonder if there is any light.

It has been a year of dark spaces, accusation, judgement and at times scorn for me too.  Coming into Advent I found myself drawn to the reality of the story of Jesus birth.  I’ve purposed to not lose sight of the mess and to look for the sacred in the midst of it.  It’s left me doing the same in my own dark and messy spaces.

I am ready to celebrate, quietly and sacredly with my family.  The celebration rooted in what is real for us this year, and I am grateful to feel the light of Jesus’ presence.

This song featuring Laurin Daigle has been a favorite of mine this Christmas, it’s reflective of where my heart has been led as the days of Advent have counted down to Christmas Eve.  I hope you will enjoy it, and I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

DSC_0512Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12).  She is the Founder of Red Tent Living.  Married for 28 years, she is mother to five kids.  After a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.