When I was growing up there was a guy in our neighbourhood that all the kids made fun of.
He muttered to himself. Wore rags. Smelled funny. And collected empty drink cans — filling his garage with them.
I don’t think I ever spoke with him. So I don’t know his story. All I have is speculation. As well as the adult realisation that he was catastrophically broken. One of those people who had been let down by life — whether in one big way or in innumerable smaller ways.
Truth is, we’re all that guy.
In our own way, we all have our garages full of something. We’re all eventually overtaken by our brokenness and disappointment. Left to cope with the fallout of things that happen. Ultimately, inhabiting our own private Chernobyls.
Like I said when I started this mini series, I’m increasingly sure that sooner or later disappointment will be the pastoral issue for me and my peers.
Whether we’re dealing with it ourselves. Or standing beside those who are. Or perhaps desperately trying to fend it off — either by playing life completely safe or by constantly recalibrating our trajectory in order to present a moving target.
But this is where Christmas holds such good news for us.
Because, according to the birth narratives in the New Testament, Christmas is all about God breaking into our desperate and disappointing circumstances.
It’s about God not playing life safe or standing at a distance. But coming to be with us. Plunging fully into our mess and brokenness — not shying away from the messiness of being conceived by a not-yet-married teenage girl in an honour-shame society.
It’s about God making himself vulnerable. Vulnerable to disappointment, to being let down, betrayed, arrested and ultimately crucified.
It’s about him taking our brokenness upon himself. And making it his own. In order to overcome it for us.
The good news is that in the midst of our brokenness and disappointment, joy, hope, peace and comfort have arrived!
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.