“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David,do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:18-20

What a mess! Joseph was stuck with an unimaginable situation. There was really no way to make this situation go away. No way to make it come out right. Ever been there? Disorder tends to make us wonder – Where is God in these messy moments?

As we try to manage all that life requires, the mess can blind us. We can become so captivated by the disorder all around us, we might even begin to wonder if the mess is the message. Joseph’s story shows us that the mess is NOT the message.

So, if the mess is not the message, is there some message IN the mess? I believe so, and it has to do with what we affirm every time we celebrate Advent. The message is: God is right where He has always been. He is in the center of the mess with us. He IS the message in the mess. The mess doesn’t seem to distract God at all. If I can paraphrase the Psalmist in 139:12, the mess is not a mess to Him.

With Him, we begin to realize that we are secure, even when the disorder feels overwhelming. That’s one of the most beautiful images in all of Scripture, and it is so often overlooked in messy moments. In the mess, Emmanuel is born. “God is with us.” In every moment of every day all through the year, Jesus is present, and He’s our Peace. We will not see this Reality until we declare in each experience: He is here tangibly central, creatively moving, practically relevant.