So it was the Christmas week church service at my in-law’s church. Hubby was in Germany. The kids and I rode with dad and mom, my sister and nephew. We met up with my brothers and sisters and their families. Most of the kids went into their own classes. Our two youngest stayed with me in main service. There we were all lined up in the church seats.
Worship began and soon baby fell asleep in my arms. Worship ended and we all sat to hear the message. The pastor began reading the account of Jesus being born in the manger. “And you know, there were animals all around him… A donkey… Now don’t go looking around you, but perhaps you have been surrounded by some stinky…” (He pretended to be sniffing.)
I can’t tell you what he said next because at that moment I looked over to my right and their is mom, bent over, sniffing around like crazy… I thought she was kidding around at first until I realized it was no joke. She had smelt something. She reached down to grab her handbag, lifted up her hand, and her face took a sudden look of both curiosity and horror. There was brown stuff on her hand. She shows me her hand, gives it a sniff, practically gags and mouths “Pooooop!”
Now people, I am not one to be disrespectful in church but I was struggling. My eyes filled with tears and a laugh pressed so hard in my throat that all I knew to do was bury my head into our baby who was in my arms, bend over and attempt to look moved by the message.
More sniffing. More searching. More tears.
There was poop on the purse.
There was poop on her shoe.
There was poop on our sleeping baby’s shoe, and on the chair that his foot had brushed up against.
Poop was all around us… Dog poop to be exact. We had strolled into church with poop all over us.
If a sermon ever hit close to home, this one was it!
Because there we were, listening to this account of Jesus being born in the middle of the stink, and in the middle of our stink, all I could do was laugh.
Because the pastor warned us, not to go looking around… And sure enough when we did, there it was. My niece said she had smelt something from the start. But I hadn’t. And it wasn’t our poop! We had just been walking along trying to do right and stepped in someone else’s poop.
Aren’t stinky situations so often like that?
But here is what God showed me in that moment, that stinky situations don’t need to steal our joy.
Jesus came to bring joy. He came in the middle of a stinky situation.
So my prayer tonight for anyone who may be in a stinky situation is this: May God cause you to be filled with tears-flowing, belly-hurting-because-you-laughed-so-much joy in the midst of the stink. Know it will all get cleaned up. It will. And yes- you may have to get your hands more in it than you would prefer to get it cleaned up, but isn’t that what Jesus did? Took the cross to clean us up? It wasn’t his “poop.” It was ours.
Know you are loved by God. Know that God is still faithful to bring new life and joy out of the stinkiest situations.