Thursday, December 6, 2012
What is "A Ragamuffin Christmas"?
If we're honest with ourselves we would admit we are all ragamuffins. A ragamuffin is less than perfect. Far, far less. We spit when we talk, we fall down frequently and we get up angrily sometimes. Our clothes aren't always pressed. Our breath is sometimes bad and usually on a day when we have a lot to say. Our dreams are broken, altered, bandaged, re-imagined and distant...but never forgotten.
We have sinned greatly and therefore we need great forgiveness. Some of us have spent our lives in service to Jesus and wondered every single day if He was pleased by our offering. We lived wildly, broke rules, felt guilt and shame that few ever understood because we pretended we were okay.
Some of us hid dark secrets from even those closest to us, whom we trusted most, because we still didn't understand that anyone could ever choose to love us...not really love us.
Ragamuffins have sharp edges from the rough way our lives have handled us. The sharpness makes us abrasive and difficult to draw near...but we secretly, unknowingly, embrace that distance because under all our bluff and bluster and outward joviality...we are afraid of being left alone. And so we create that isolation before someone else forces it one us.
Ragamuffins fall to sleep at night to the echo of the voices of those we miss, those we loved who left us, those we have wounded and didn't mean to, and those who have hurt us deeply who we can't seem to forget, regardless of what they did. We long for God and fear Him all at the same time. We pray in earnest while the whispers in our heart turn to threatening bellows..."He isn't listening. He doesn't listen to people like you !" We learned that from other ragamuffins who rose to power and authority somehow, despite...or more likely because...of their own faults and frailties and the powerful masks they wear to hide them.
Ragamuffins are pretenders. We walk through life like "Igor" in Young Frankestein, incredulously asking "What Hump?" when the doctor offers to fix us. We've pretended for so long, that we started to believe that this broken condition is "normal". We believe that we are inadequate on purpose. That this is how we were supposed to be. If we fail financially it's not because the economy is in the tank, it's because we're "stupid"...because that's what the bellowing buffoon says...and he must be right because he is a "Christian" and the church approves of him. We must be far from God because the smiley-faced guy in Houston says God want's our lives to be "like Friday every day!" and we're locked in a perpetual Monday morning.
We get sick and we don't get healed. We drive a broken down car and we complain about it. We watch as our lives ebb and our dreams fade but we can't seem to give up and accept the empty hole that wants to take the place of those dreams.
Ragamuffins are bad housekeepers and lousy drivers, and can't balance a checkbook. We get angry and then we deeply regret what we said or did. We wish we could let our eyes glaze over and raise our hands during praise and worship like so many others do but somehow we can't. We are questioners who only want answers but somehow always seem to be viewed as troublemakers.
We love deeply...most of the time too deeply. We are fiercely loyal to those we love and many times to those who are far less than loyal in return.
We have a long list of people we've hurt that we seem to be forced to review each night before bed. We wish things had turned out differently, and we still strive to that end.
We love Christmas. We love this baby and what He came to do for us. So each year we return to this place with our worn clothes and the heavy suitcase that we keep shifting from one hand to the other, because we are so tired of carrying it. We stumble back here to this cave and to this baby and we remember that He was a lot more like us than He was like any of the polished, and prudish and perfect. We find out...when we see the other ragamuffins here...that we are a lot more like the people the preachers preach against than the ones he is preaching to. But we find out that this baby was that way too.
Somehow in the midst of this Silent Night, we fall on our knees and gently lift this little Wonder into our arms and all the things we carried in here with us fall away. The Baby of Bethlehem does what babies do. Jesus...the Son of God...in the flesh. He wraps his tiny hand around our finger and he sleeps in our arms and we feel the love of God break through all those layers of imperfection, hurt, disappointment fear and shame. That is His Christmas present to us.
The year takes it's toll and we find ourselves tattered and torn and adrift. But we cling to the single plank of Faith and find ourselves washed ashore and stumbling toward a star and a stable. We kneel at the manger and we see God, face to face and flesh to flesh. Jesus, the Baby of Bethlehem. The Savior of the world. The Ragamuffin who came for Ragamuffins.
Come as you are...