Our nativity set is positioned right next to our driveway. As I come and go in my busy days, I reminded of the humbleness that Jesus arrived in. However, this year God has used the plastic lighted figurines to remind me of something else. Jesus family wasn’t perfect either.
Many times, it feels like everyone else has it all together, and Christmas at others homes is like a Norman Rockwell painting. And then we look at our Christmas, and struggle to hold it together. Our relationships with our family are many times hard. And while our hearts desire is that everyone could not only get along, but actually enjoy and treasure being together, reality is that many times this isn’t the case. If you’re like me, the holidays are a time of joy, but it’s easy to lose sight of the miracle of Jesus in the middle of the mess of family life.
Each trip in and out of my driveway has me pondering Jesus. And I’ve realized that things might look different than we envisioned them in our over commercialized society.
Were Joseph and Mary two young people in love? Many believe that their was a significant age difference between Joseph and Mary. It was custom in their culture for girls to be married at 12-13. Joseph’s age isn’t mentioned, but many scholars believe him to be “older.”
No mention is made of the reaction of Mary’s parents when she showed up with a baby bump out of wed lock. Certainly that was a difficult conversation.
And then the manager scene. We process it as a barn like structure with straw and a golden glow. Reality is, it was likely more of a cavernous structure where the animals took shelter.
Not only was the arrival of Jesus not reminiscent of the perfect family, his lineage wasn’t perfect either. Prostitutes and adultery, murders and the like dotted his family line. And then, as we continue to read about his life, we find that many aspects were less than “perfect” by our definition.
The Bible mentions 4 brothers and some sisters to Jesus; none of whom followed Jesus during his Earthly ministry. His father isn’t mentioned after about the age of 12. Perhaps he passed early, leaving Jesus as the eldest in the family. Pursuing the radical ministry that Jesus had in that day would have been even more complicated by being the oldest son to a widowed mom.
James, the brother who became an apostle, didn’t follow Jesus until AFTER his resurrection. His mother was the only family present at his crucifiction. As he was dying, he left responsibility for his mother with his dear apostle John, not one of his brothers.
Raised by what was actually a step-father (because he was the child of God), certainly an immigrant for much of his life as he wasn’t welcome in his own village, Jesus wandered without a definitive “home.”
Do you get the drift? We have this idea that we have to have it all together to be good Christian families with everything tied up in a pretty bow. The problem is, that isn’t the example we see in Jesus family. So, why do we do this to ourselves?
If you’re like me and have the tendency to think your the only one with a family that is hard, give yourself some grace. Jesus family wasn’t perfect either. As you enter into the holiday, celebrate Jesus birth, dysfunctional family and all. And pray that he would give you eyes to see your family the way he sees them. The way he created them. And step forward in Grace and Love!