Today was the most ordinary of ordinary days with a hint of drab and dreary thrown in.
We heard the rain strengthen as my girls grabbed their backpacks to leave for school, so I drove them to the bus stop and we sat in the minivan where it was dry (but not quite warm). I told one daughter to pray about her missing retainer and hoped this is a way God would draw her close. (May He teach her how to turn to Him for everything?) Then I wished them well on the last day of school before Christmas break as we saw the bus lights through the fog.
I ran errands, including a visit to the post office where the employee helped me figure out the least expensive way to ship a Christmas package. I met with a piano tuner, folded laundry, packed lunches, and made meals. At some point today, I answered emails and made some phone calls.
I avoided puddles (which my son stepped in) and slipped around mud throughout the day. At the end of the afternoon, I comforted a daughter whose day ended with some disappointments and hurt feelings.
Mostly I searched for the missing retainer (in the trash, under the furniture, around town, in the cabinets, down the sofa cushions) and prayed about the missing retainer, then made a bunch of plans to replace it only to have my prayer answered 10 minutes before I left to pick up my daughter and head to the orthodontist. I found the elusive retainer where it had fallen down from the shelf where she had safely placed it.
But that was the day. Finding it took nearly the whole day.
We baked cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday, and watched a movie while I cleaned the kitchen and worked on getting a stain out of another daughter’s sweatshirt.
A day like today, completely saturated in so much ordinary–missing dental appliances, messes, errands, and chores–doesn’t feel very much like “Christmas.” It wasn’t all flashing lights, beauty, extraordinary worship, or holy feelings . There wasn’t snow or “magic” or warm and fuzzy, jolly or joyful fun.
Somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, I had a moment of feeling disappointed in myself really. The pile of clean and folded laundry and the found retainer seemed like all I had really accomplished today.
Not exactly the kind of success that makes headlines.
But then I remembered that Christmas means something deeply and powerfully true:
God came down into the ordinary.
He came down into MY ordinary. And He inhabits my ordinary days in the here and now of my waking-and-sleeping life.
He didn’t come extravagant, grand, wealthy, and powerful. He came plain and simple . He came small: A tiny, insignificant town called Bethlehem. A poor couple, a young girl and her husband, a laborer. A bed of hay and a makeshift outfit. Shepherds called out of their nightly vigil on the hillsides to “come and see” this tiny, unexpected Savior.
What if he had come differently? What if all the pomp and circumstance had been there, making the first Christmas a grand event of royal magnitude: Red carpets, crowns, robes, a palace, power, wealth, and position?
What if Jesus had come untouchable, unapproachable, and inaccessible?
An out-of-reach Messiah couldn’t have saved anyone.
Jesus came on an oh-so-ordinary day to an oh-so-ordinary town and reached oh-so-ordinary people.
That’s where I live, too–in ordinary places, on ordinary days, doing ordinary things with ordinary people.
Max Lucado wrote:
“Jesus did not separate himself from his creation; he pitched his tent in the neighborhood” (God’s Story, Your Story)
John said it this way:
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14 NASB).
That means our story can be a Christmas story of its own, how the Savior dwells in the simplest of places and uses simple people like us. How he is so extraordinary but He meets me right here in the middle of all my ordinary. How God impacts the world as we run errands, clean messes, make phone calls, and pray for our kids.
This is what Max Lucado said:
“…you live an everyday life. You have bills to pay, beds to make, and grass to cut. Your face won’t grace any magazine covers, and you aren’t expecting a call from the White House. Congratulations. You qualify for a modern-day Christmas story. God enters the world through folks like you and comes on days like today” (God’s Story, Your Story).
So today, this ordinary day, is part of my Christmas story: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” We need your presence here among us even now.