Monday, December 10, 2012
What would you say to Him...if you could.
Undoubtedly the great effect of "A Ragamuffin Christmas" is the "what-if" factor. You read it, and you read about people like you and like me who somehow make a mystical visit to the Nativity and who meet Jesus face-to-face. You know it could never happen, but you also know that if it could have happened...it probably would have happened like it does in the book. That's the wonder of "A Ragamuffin Christmas".
Nothing about the book makes you frown at it's theology. Nothing makes you angry or insulted and wanting to fire off an angry letter to me, telling me how wrong I am and how God would "Never ever do that!" and surround your protest with a dozen verses of scripture that prove me a heretic.
The story is clearly a fiction, but clearly a believable fiction. It's something that, if it could happen, would probably happen the way it happens on these pages.
The purpose of the book was to make the reader think.
It's to make you think about the situation Jesus was born in. Poor, isolated, ignored, scandalous...all descriptives that fail to meet the standards of the King of Kings. The angel declared: "Don't be afraid! Because I am bringing you good news! For today, for you, a baby is born in Bethlehem. He is the Christ, and He is The LORD!" And then God completed the announced task by sending His beloved Son...my Savior and my Lord...to a filthy cave, to poor parents, amid whispers of scandalous illegitimacy, rumors of insanity, (Imagine those few people that Mary might have told this whole story to, and how they reacted to her.) and ignored by everyone except some shepherds.
Jesus entered the first act of the Great Plan of Redemption through a side door. I think this was all done so that we would find Him utterly approachable.
The story of "A Ragamuffin Christmas" takes you past the things we always think about Christmas, and creates a place where we can think about the other things about Christmas. We have always thought about the Baby...on these pages we think about holding Him. We think about touching Him. We think about making silly faces at Him so He'll smile and holding that precious hand, and our hearts melting as it curls around our finger. We think about the way babies smell, and the way they bring us peace and calm, and the way they make us see the future as a fresh start. They make us think about life itself...about Life Himself.
And somewhere in the pages of this book something inevitably clicks and we suddenly feel Him in our arms and we realize with stunning revelation...this baby is God. He has come to me like this and He has permitted me to hold Him in my arms and He has melted the frost that years and life have added, layer upon layer.
I was homeless when I wrote this story. I needed a special touch that year because it was more horribly painful than anything I can relate. My daughter was 10 years old and her daddy was homeless and it was killing my soul. Christmas has always been a very special time in our house and that year it hurt more than I can tell. I asked God for something special to help me get through that terribly painful period...and He gave me these stories.
He also gave me the vision of sharing them with the world as the printed page upon which they now reside.
And that is why I so desperately want this book to succeed. Sure there are financial considerations, but deep down I want people to be touched as I have been, by the stories.
I want you to be touched.
What if you had been there? What if you had wandered by that cave on that cold winters night and something said to you "Look inside..." and you poked your head in and saw a young girl and her husband and their baby? What if you introduced yourself to Joseph and Mary, and you looked in their eyes knowing more about their child's fate than they knew and it was all you could do not to break down in tears as the thought of what their hearts would endure wounds you to your soul?
So you would keep your knowledge to yourself...you'd even go to great lengths to hide it so that it doesn't accidentally escape your lips.
"He's beautiful, Mary" you might say, "What is his name?" And then your heart would race and tears would fill your eyes as you heard it from the lips of a young woman whose very name is mentioned in the Bible as "Blessed amongst women". She speaks the name that all of history recognizes and upon whom the great Plan of Salvation rests. "His name...is Jesus" the young girl whispers. The name echoes silently in your heart. You try to hide the tears so as to avoid having to explain them to this young couple who don't know the half of what their son's fate will be.
But you know.
Imagine the baby stirs while you are still savoring the sweetness of hearing His name spoken by His mother...and she asks you "Would you like to hold him?" Imagine the torrent of thoughts as they flood your soul. "Yes...of course" and before you know it, He is in your arms. He is soft, and precious, and vulnerable, and unassuming, and beautiful. And He is God. And you are holding Him.
He stirs just a bit and He makes the special little cooing sounds that babies make and your heart wants to burst. Because in those sweet syllables of baby-babble you hear something else indeed. You hear what Mary has no way of grasping. You hear; "I have to be doing my Father's business". You hear; "Since your accusers don't condemn you...neither do I. Go get on with your life and stop sinning". His cooing becomes; "Peter...follow me and I will make you a fisher of men". The gentle sound becomes the boom of; "Lazarus come forth!" And then your heart crumbles as you hear; "It is finished".
All the while you are amazed because you are holding God Himself. God is nestled in your arms. God has trusted you with His very Son.
In this moment the words pour out. Maybe you don't speak them in the presence of His parents but they ring from your heart. Your faults, your frailties, your victories and defeats. The dreams you dreamed that died long ago and the ones you tucked away hoping they will never die.
The things you think keep you from Him. The things you need to tell Him about. All babies cause us to drop our guard and become loving, gentle, tender hearts. But this baby especially...He knocks down the walls that our lives have built and He never speaks a word as He does it.
This story is about exactly this encounter. And when you read "A Ragamuffin Christmas" you take the journey to the cave. You awaken to find the baby in your arms. And you have audience with the Very Son of God.
Now, what would you say to Him...if you could?