Blame it on Thanksgiving being late, or having too many major home repairs, or the flu knocking everyone off their feet for a week, but Christmas has come and gone way too quickly this year.

We didn’t beat last years record of six hours to unwrap our presents. We only took four. Although today we’ll finish up with Oldest Son and his girlfriend and we may come close.

Life moves too fast. The first semester of Middle Son’s college career, the holiday season, the clock ticking until Husband has a hip replacement next month.

Where can I find time and space for Christmas?

It’s not an easy thing. The world doesn’t value slow.

Yet I find I need quiet and stillness to receive the information I’m wanting, I’m needing to know exists. Because if I can’t get out of the rush that has been this Christmas season I may totally miss it.

I’m one of those odd birds that doesn’t like Christmas music, so listening to the radio has gotten tedious and irritating. The rare surprise is a handful of songs that DO stop me in my tracks and make me think about why we celebrate Jesus’ birth every year.

One in particular, and a poem that starts running through my head in the odd moment of quiet and calm.

This year it came together for me as I sat in the packed service of the church where I attend Celebrate Recovery. On Christmas Eve.

I’m a visual person. There was a powerful light and sound show depicting the incongruity of God, in his immeasurable pervasiveness, making himself so small as to zoom in to our universe, our solar system, this earth, and become a human like me.

If you can fully grasp that, try to explain the logic of it to me, because I cannot.

In the 2000+ years since that event happened, the world has written myths and folk tales of gods and superhuman heroes that we idolize. Just look at the top-grossing movies in recent years.

Heroes in stories have had humble beginnings only to at some point step into their places as the true leaders they were meant to be.

Jesus was born in a stable, laid in a feed trough, and died on a cross meant for the worst of criminals.

It’s hard to wrap my head around this. I mean, I’ve studied the Bible and I get the need for Jesus to die for the sin of the world. What I shake my head about is the means. The actual meanness of the place he was born.

The lack of a super power making clear he was Messiah, Emmanuel, King of Kings and Lord of Lords to everyone he met.

I have to ask myself, why did God allow his son to be born like this, among farm animals?

As a girl a farmer who raised sheep would use space in our big barn during lambing season. There are smells and sounds, a density to the air made up of animal body humidity and dust, muddy floors, fresh hay and buckets of formula with long nipples attached to feed the rejected lambs, layers of straw for bedding hiding the slickness of urine and manure.

This was the stable of my youth. What was that one like?

More importantly, what purpose did this serve, for Jesus to be born in this place, in this way?

How unlike a hero story the birth of Jesus was. He didn’t swoop down and single-handedly wipe out the evil forces threatening to destroy our world.

Or did he?

Because when I read the Bible I find that the goal isn’t to save the world. It’s to save you. And me. To make us impervious to the evil in this world.

Out of the stable of our lives where we nose around like sheep for a bite of something that appeals to us, choosing to ignore the filth we allow to fall around us, seeping into the ground or drying in the warmth of the day until we’re so used to our sin we forget how badly we need to be made clean.

And yet Jesus took us on. Took on our lowest, meanest places, literally at his birth. And in a more real and eternal way than I can imagine when he offers to come and live inside me, inside my heart, in this filthy, inadequate stable he calls the temple of the Holy Spirit.

So I read the poem “Let the Stable Still Astonish” by Lesley Leyland Fields, and I hope you will read it, too.

Slowly. Word by word. Sinking in deep.

“Let the stable still astonish
Straw — dirt floor, dull eyes
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough
Who would have chosen this?

Who would have said ‘Yes,’
‘Let the God of all the heavens
And earth
Be born here, in this place’?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
of our hearts
and says ‘Yes,’
‘Let the God of Heaven and Earth
be born here –
in this place.’

Let this sink in – this truth, this injustice, undeserved mercy, pure love looking straight at MY darker, fouler rooms and stepping in before I realized how much making me clean had cost him.

Even though I know Jesus conquered death, I tend to accept it as if I somehow deserve it.

So here’s the song, the one that always breaks me to tears.

As you click I pray you, too, will slow, taking a quiet moment to listen until you see it.

See the reason.

“I Celebrate The Day” by Relient K (written by Matt Thiesen)

And with this Christmas wish is missed
The point I could convey
If only I could find the words to say to let You know how much You’ve touched my life
Because here is where You’re finding me, in the exact same place as New Years Eve
And from the lack of my persistancy
We’re less than half as close as I want to be

And the first time
That You opened Your eyes did You realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever

And so this Christmas I’ll compare the things I felt in prior years
To what this midnight made so clear
That You have come to meet me here

And the first time
That You opened Your eyes did You realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever

To look back and think that
This baby would one day save me
In the hope that what You did
That You were born so I might live
To look back and think that
This baby would one day save me

And I, I celebrate the day
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life