Dear Friends and Family,

“Sometimes Jesus is messy – and that’s OK.”

I didn’t know what else to say.  So these words just came out of my mouth.

I was praying with a student at a retreat after I spoke words of challenge to steep ourselves in the reality of God’s love. Her tears came freely, and I didn’t have any other words to say to them as I was praying.

Sandra didn’t feel like anyone really knew her.  She struggled with an eating disorder.  She came from a broken home.  She looked to escape from the problems in looking for the next party.  She came to her senses and humbled herself and recognized she needed help.  She was willing to accept Jesus on his terms because she knew He loved her.

I’d like to tell you that this was the exception rather than the norm in ministry at an elite university – but I’d be lying.  Very few students get to a point of honesty where the words they speak conform to the messy reality of their inner being. I told her she was courageous and humble like Jesus.

As we enter the Christmas season, I’m beginning to see the scenes with picturesque snowscaped rolling hills with smoking chimneys.  I will soon see the city of Chicago lit up beautifully and the shopping lines of Michigan Avenue.  But they have little to do with the first Christmas, where the destiny of the world rested in the choices of two rural teenagers in a messy situation.

Mary’s unplanned parenthood brought disgrace to her family.  She was nearly divorced by Joseph, and was on the run for the first few years of Jesus’ life.  Yet Mary was the first to accept Jesus on his own terms, despite such high cost.  Inconvenient hardly begins to describe her circumstances.  Impossible is better.

Accepting Jesus on his terms is difficult and messy.  But through the most humble of ways, God connected with his helpless children through becoming helpless himself.  As I prayed with the student, it became clear that she was connecting with God and was experiencing God’s love for her. The tears were followed by hugs of acceptance and joy from true friends.

The good news of Jesus became real, and she became part of the celebration – just like the angels on that first Christmas day.  May you experience that blessing as well this season.

Grace & Peace,

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