By Debora Coty

My vision of an ideal Christmas is a holy day, full of wonder, sparkling with heavenly light, topped by a velvety silent night overflowing with peace and goodwill.

Yeah, right. Sadly, that’s not how my Christmas usually turns out. Nor is it what my friend Leslie encountered on her visit to Bethlehem days before Christmas. The very place where it all began.

At the Church of the Nativity, built over the stable (cave) where Jesus was believed to have been born, stern policemen intermingled with harsh representatives of six different denominations each operating their own piece of real estate within the crowded cathedral.

Shouts of, “That’s enough! You go! Next in line!” directed at visitors kneeling momentarily to worship in the tiny cavern where a silver star marked the holy birthplace, clashed with the buzz of French, Polish, English, German and Russian tour guides directing their respective groups.

Too many bodies mashed together as tempers flared and priests argued while worshipers chanted in the Orthodox sanctuary and policemen screamed to shocked visitors, “Stop! You! Stop talking or I’ll kick you all out!”

No holy wonder. Just an unholy mess. No peace. No goodwill. No silent night…only pushing and shouting.

Kind of like it must’ve been in Bethlehem that very first Christmas with hoards of people swarming their small hometown in preparation for the mandatory census. Packed restaurants; full inns; choking dust from trampling feet. Wills colliding everywhere. No doubt tempers flared and voices were raised. Chaos.

Hmm. Sounds like my house on Christmas night. Maybe yours, too.

But you know what? Jesus knows what that’s like and he’s okay with it. It’s exactly the kind of place he chose to be born. And we are exactly the kind of harried, snarky, willful people he came to save.

So in the midst of the chaos, I find holy wonder in knowing that the Prince of Peace chooses to shine his holy light into my unholy mess. And I worship him.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, KJV).

Debora M. Coty is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of over 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Visit with Debora anytime at www.DeboraCoty.com.