Pulling out the small tube of white stuff I held it up triumphantly in front of my face.
"What is that?" She asked, clearly perplexed by the odd thing I was holding up in front of her, like an offering of a candle on a Christmas Eve service. The little white kind that they wrap around in a sheath of paper and nervous parents cup their hands beneath their toddler's hands in hopes of not being the ones that set their church on fire.
"It's a tube of caulking," I declare, the word sounding foreign to me as it quite possibly was the second time in my life that I had ever said it. The first being earlier in the evening when I had strolled into the hardware store, twirling my hair, and asked the salesperson to tell me where caulking was. Which after checking the mighty internet and seeing what it had to say on how to fix a tub, was declared as the tool of choice. A tube of white stuff that would be stuffed down in the broken pieces. It seemed so small a thing, so feeble and yet it worked.
She immediately understood. And I'm pretty sure the underlying message was caught as well. Not, "you don't need him" but: "you will survive this, my sister." For the most looming task had been re-caulking the bathtub and it had been with a bit of dismay that she had mentioned it the previous weekend. My mind had stayed on that problem all week. So I searched online and was relatively surprised at how easy it seemed. There we were, stuffing the white stuff down into the dark parts, and laughing while we did it. This too, would pass.
I chance a glance behind me at her, and watch as she helps my boy re-light his candle. Her boys beside her, one towering tall like a tree and the other too tall for my liking as well. It seems like just yesterday they were CJ's size and now they loom. CJ exuberantly holds his candle up, for at our church that's how we do it, big and bold and he loves the part where he gets to thrust his candle up to the heavens like a sword. So, do, I. At first I start to encourage him to keep it down level, but as I glance at him he is staring into the light with wonder and the candlelight dances off his face.
What would it have been like to see the light shining off Moses' face when he came down from that mountain? So bright they had to ask him to cover it. But, did they? Did they really have to ask him to cover it? Was it more they just couldn't bear the intensity of it? Like me motioning with my hand to CJ to lower his candlesword. Isn't life supposed to be lived full and bright?
The preacher is talking about white stuff. He had called all the little kids up and given them small bags of fake snow that they could take home and make and he talks about white stuff and I see the white stuff on my fingertips and on my sister's fingertips and I see us stuffing it down into the cracks. I see that us fixing her tub that night was about much more than caulking. It was about living.
And Jesus didn't come down here for the put-together ones who hold their candles just so, he came down here for the desperate ones that thrust it up like the sword that it is and hope it cuts through the darkness of their hearts. For the wiggly babies whose butts hurt and toddle off with their granny fussing all the way. For the little boys with curly hair who blow out their candle a might too soon. And for the single moms with two towering boys who doggonit can caulk their own tubs.
The preacher keeps talking and the boy on my husband's lap whispers up to him which he then whispers to me. "He just asked me what the man was talking about, because he sounds 'crazy.'" I smile. Kids' say the darndest things. Truth is the man does sound crazy. He's talking about a God who literally came down to save the world and that is just crazy.
We start singing Silent Night.
"Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace..."
The second man to radiate God's glory so bright it changed history. This one though, split history. Time itself changed initials. And the white stuff he brought! One lady just chanced a glance on the edge of his robe and was healed. Another friend tasted Death's foul stench in the marrow of his soul only to be called back to life by his friend. This one. This one got stuffed down into the dark parts and his radiant good spread through and burst forth and shattered death itself. Heavens. I need to remember that. White stuff can spread into the dark parts.
"..Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth... Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth."
You see, he wasn't suddenly a king. He came down that way. He didn't rise the ranks to become a leader he stepped down from heaven's glory into a lowly manger and descended to us. He didn't have an action plan or a snazzy mission statement. He chose the worst people, the sinners, the forgotten, even a freaking tax man. It wasn't exactly a business model I would suggest. But that's just it. While the dear beloved church seems more intent on making church a business he was throwing stands and chairs and having a regular old-fashioned temper-tantrum.
This is the king I need. This crazy king. Who blew expectations out of the feeble minds and keeps doing it still 2000 years later. This king that came to be a baby. A baby of all things. I changed my little niece's diaper earlier and I had forgotten how little they can do for themselves. Literally nothing at first. So weak and feeble. That is how he came. Not all put together on a golden chariot with an angel army at his back. He seemed so small a thing, so feeble and yet it worked. It worked my friend.
The thing though, about Jesus, is he always comes as a Lord. Even as a baby, he came as a Lord. He doesn't come as a good idea. Nor as a comforting pillow decoration. Quite frankly he messes things up. He says crazy things like those who want to be first need to be last and then, even crazier, he did it. He served himself straight onto a cross of all things. And as he stretched out, spread thin and feeble, it worked. The light spread and covered the dark places. The Lord who came that way as a baby born to a poor family in a dirty place and it is now celebrated across the world as Christmas.
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth. We ask you to come, to spread over our dark cracks and make us whole again. We take all of you, the crazy God that you are who marches to his own drummer in his own galaxy. We thank you for this gift that you have given us, your very self given as our salvation. We drop our little tubes of attempts at being holy and take instead truly holiness in the very person of You. We take you as Lord, for that is the only way you will be taken. We thank you for coming and dying for us, for even coming in the first place. Merry Christmas friend, and may it indeed be merry and bright.