It's the Christmas season, typically a time associated with the good news of a saviour-babe* being born in Bethlehem.
Truthfully, I've never clicked with the version of the story that relies heavily on the fact of Jesus' birth being "good news".** That is, until now. Now I find myself in weary need of good news. I admit that my cry to the Almighty last week was not for world peace, the Syrian refugees, or even for the poor to find shelter in my city during this cold spell. No. My plea was for my blood work results to indicate some health improvement.
These past six months have emptied me.
Nearly half a year ago, I agreed to an (unexpected) transplant, in hopes that life with another kidney would result in better overall health. Due to all the subsequent complications regarding said transplant, I have instead met with loss.
What I anticipated from the kidney was a certain freedom. Likewise, what the Israelites expected was a great Messiah, one who would overthrow the ruling Roman occupation by military might. Rather than that, as we know the story goes, they got a poopy, most likely wailing*** baby, one not even born in a respectable location. I got a maybe thirty-five percent working kidney with a lymphocele attached. It’s not what was expected.
While it’s not what was hoped for, I can concede to what has been given: I have been left open, raw and without the luxury of much pretense. It is quite obvious that I do not have my life together. I can’t hide my swollen leg, or the fact that my winter boot does not fit over the tensor bandages, or that my belly, freshly cut and still swollen, can’t handle anything but elastic-waisted leggings. I pee now into a bag and require daily help just taking care of my two year old son.
I am a mess and admit that I am in desperate need of a miracle-working Creator. I need Someone who can, and does, intervene in human history. I am in need of the good news of a Saviour-babe being born, in a stable, to (perhaps) a virgin Mary and good ol’ Joseph.****
*As in child-babe, not ‘sexy’ babe
**it is a well-used saying, one washed away of meaning if too much time is spent in church pews.
***I call bullshit on the song, Away in a Manger. Trust me, that Jesus baby? You’d better believe he cried. He probably blew out a diaper or two, too. No sing-songs about that now, eh?
**** My experience of church is limited. But for the past six months, I can’t help but feel like I have sat in Sunday-morning chairs, (figuratively) bleeding out over polished floors. People have offered kindness, compassion and much generousity, for which I am grateful. Please do not hear that I am not. I can’t help but wonder, however, where the present-day belief in the power of God has gone, this same power that is gleefully sung about in songs of a certain baby being born in a stable to unwed parents?