(I’m taking part in the Twitter #adventbookclub, reading “Beginnings and Endings” by Maggi Dawn. Not every day will have a blog post. Although we’re now out of Advent, the readings go on to Epiphany.)
Today, Maggi reminds us that Jesus was born into a dirty, messy, smelly environment, and that although as a baby he was protected from this as much as possible – clean straw in the manger, swaddling bands – his mission embraced the dirty, the messy, the smelly, the unclean, the sinful. Her challenge for us today is, do we follow Jesus’ example?
“Our instinctive reaction to all things holy is to make a holy space for them – to keep them protected from the vile and the shameful, the dirty and unacceptable parts of our world and our lives.”
When I read this, I thought of our church building. We are lucky enough to have a separate hall, and other smaller rooms; but there are always debates about what things can happen in the hall that can’t take place in the ‘church’, like the stalls for the Christmas Fair. Yet what, really, is the difference? And are there any limits to what we should set even in the hall, if we want this building to be a place of welcome and hospitality?
On Christmas Eve, the churches in our area hold a short service in a local shopping area – a space used every day for everyday activities. And the midnight communion services often attract those who don’t attend at any other time, and who have come straight from the pub. These are timely reminders that we cannot separate the holy from the ordinary, and we should not try.
Jesus came into the world to save it, to redeem it; to get stuck in to the dirty and messy – and make it all holy. Let us get out there and do the same.