Vomit, The Goonies, and the puke-mattress Gospel
Sometimes I try to think of all the things I’ve learned since becoming a father. How to triple-wash and strip cloth diapers. How to take rectal temperature (not that hard really, but who has occasion–mercifully–to do this before having an infant). How to make baby food from squash. The names of the characters on Yo Gabba Gabba (the humanity!).
The list is endless.
But perhaps the thing I am most grateful for is learning to use vinegar to get rid of the smell of vomit. Let’s just be honest here, there is no smell quite as nauseating as vomit. If you’ve seen The Goonies then you know this.
I had occasion to use this skill once again after our eldest was sick early this morning.
As we’re moving through Advent in anticipation of the Nativity next week, the puke mattress is pungent reminder of the purpose of the Incarnation and it’s connection with God’s redemptive work in Christ.
We often focus, and rightly so, on Easter as we contemplate the way in which it pleased God to purchase a people for His name. At the same time, we often overlook the way in which Christmas is the beginning of that crucial episode in redemption history.
In order to redeem his people, it was necessary for God Himself to enter into the mess–the puke-smeared mattress–of our fallen condition.The project of redemption was not a distant, abstract, theoretical sort of thing. Instead it was a messy, painful, paradoxical, tragicomical–bringing good out of bad–sort of thing.
We’re prone to gloss over our messes. We live in an image-saturated culture where a quick look at Facebook can provide endless icons of perfect family life, burgeoning careers, and the like. Posted there less often is the deep pain, the searing loss, the bondage to sin, that marks so many lives.
As sentimental as Christmas is–and there’s some good in it–our preparation for (in Advent) and our celebration of it (in Christmastide) is an invitation to consider the sorry condition of our race of humanity that caused the incarnation to be necessary in the first place.