The world is full of mess. We know that. From the rubble of Syria to the floating islands of plastic in our oceans there is plenty of evidence that our world is in a mess. Is it a hopeless mess? Or - as we limber up for the Christmas season - is there a thread of hope that things can, and will, get better?
The core message of Christmas is that God came into the world to address this problem, to deal with the mess. This sounds like good news, but how does his clear-up work?
We have a tendency to think of God as a divine chief executive of the heavenly council. We expect God to devote his infinite resources to a large scale clean-up of humanity’s messiness. Then we look around us and wonder what on Earth God is doing about the problems that we see.
One quick look at the Christmas story shows us that God didn’t come as a political power broker; he came as a powerless child, born into poverty and obscurity. God didn’t show himself to be an all achieving chief executive, instead he came into this world with just a proverbial bin bag and a sturdy pair of figurative gloves.
When we see litter in our streets, we can hope that the council will pay someone to clean it up. They may. We can lobby the council to devote more funding to street cleaning. They might. Alternatively, we can bend down and pick it up ourselves. This is the approach that God took in the birth of Jesus. He came among us as one of us and taught us to care for and forgive one another.
There is hope. We are that hope. If we want our world to be less of a mess, we need follow God’s example, and roll up our symbolic sleeves, and start making a difference.