Monthly Archives: December 2016

Happy Birthday Jesus

My son’s birthday is close to Christmas.  Because of this, I often think of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, and what that first Christmas must have been like.  I don’t know if I would have had the strength and faith Mary had if I had gone through all she endured.

When Mary was pregnant, she was a young teenager engaged to be married, and traveling far from her home.  She was probably scared and worried about the pain of giving birth, what would happen during the process and wished her mother was around for knowledge, comfort and support.  She only had a fiancé who was just as unsure as she was about the whole process.  Both were road weary, perhaps a little crabby and needing a place to rest.  Mary might have been experiencing the early pangs of childbirth and keeping them to herself.

Bethlehem was crowded with people coming for the census and to pay their taxes.  They have checked every in in town, and there is nothing. The innkeepers have little compassion because they are full and over their limit and are tired of saying there is no room.  Finally, there is an innkeeper who notices the very pregnant and young Mary and possibly sees the pain of a contraction cross her face.  He has compassion and allows them to use his stable area.

Just as Mary and Joseph get settled, Mary goes into hard labor.  The pain is intense, and both of them are frightened.  Joseph is afraid Mary is dying and holds her hand, tries to sing to her, and talks softly assuring her he loves her and everything will be okay.  God’s presence fills the stable and a soft glow comes over everything.  He guides them both through the birthing process, and His spirit of comfort surrounds them both.

They hold their newborn son knowing they have witnessed one of life’s miraculous moments and are in awe.  They praise God for His guidance and presence in the stable with them.  Both count the baby’s fingers and toes and can’t believe how small and perfect they are.  All their doubts and worries turn into hopes and dreams.

Jesus was not Mary’s only child, but he was her only son by God.  As she held her son, she knew he was destined to do great and wonderful things.  When you hold your newborn child, you also hold all the hopes and dreams for them.  You want for a good life for that baby!

I often wonder if Mary suspected her son was born to die, just as innocent of a crime then, as he was at birth.  She knew he came to save the world, but was she aware of the price?  Did she know she, too, would have to pay the cost?  How could she bear to watch him die on a cross so cruelly?  What faith and trust it took to turn Jesus over to God and watch her son grow up, do amazing and good things and then die publically like a criminal!  Yet, she believed God was doing what was best.  Every birthday my son has, I contemplate Mary’s strength and faith and how it shines during this holiday season.

 

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

Luke 1:46-47

The Reason for the Season

 

I remember as a child that I waited in great anticipation for Thanksgiving.  It wasn’t about the fabulous turkey meal my mother would prepare, but about the decorating for Christmas that would begin the next day.  I couldn’t wait for our Christmas tree to go up so we could decorate it and play Christmas music.  My brother, sister and I would sing, decorate and drive our parents crazy with our horsing around and hanging too many ornaments on the same branch or in the same area.  My dad would decorate the outside of the house and the lights and the Santa and the Nativity scenes would go up.  We loved putting baby Jesus in the manger – which was one of our old dolls – as the final touch.

To this day, I can still feel the joyful anticipation as we prepared for our favorite holiday.  I remember being so grateful to Jesus for being born and getting gifts so that we could get them too!  Each Christmas carol that we played on our stereo added an exclamation point to Merry Christmas. We were all nicer to one another and did what we could to help around the house to earn extra brownie points for Santa to make up for any black marks on our list.  Mom had told us several times when we misbehaved that Santa could surprise us with a stocking full of coal and that brought us back in line.

Then baking would start and my mom would make gobs, pumpkin, thumbprint, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies.  We would all gather around her and help her grind nuts or mix dough so that we could sneak samples.  My mother had to keep careful accounts of whose turn it was to lick the beaters and bowl.

We would go to church and the anticipation would heighten because we were also remembering that Christmas over 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born.  I remember feeling blessed that we could share in that event and loved singing Gloria in Excelisis Deo and would see if I could do it without having to take a breath.  Celebrating Christ’s birth was so much fun!  As I child, it was the only time I really enjoyed church.  I tried not to think about why he was born.  It made me sad that Jesus had to die for my sins.  But I was glad that His Spirit was still alive and that I could feel His love for me.

Everywhere we went during the Christmas season there was the happy chatter, bright shiny decorations and “Merry Christmases” being exchanged.  It seemed like back then everyone was in a good mood. The specialness of the season followed us around like a happy puppy.

To this day as I get my Christmas decorations out, I remember that feeling and I bask in it as I decorate to Christmas music.  That’s the only time I seem to feel it any more.  It’s so sad that our once joyful season has been commercialized and politically corrected to the point where the true meaning is lost and the specialness of the season is tarnished.  Christ has almost been obliterated from the season that is named after Him.

To have the birth of Christ tied into our Christmas season gave the season an aura of awe and wonder that built as Christmas Day came near.  It seemed that everyone allowed the celebration of the Christ child regardless of their true beliefs and cared enough about others to not ruin celebrations.  There were very few people playing Scrooge destroying the ambience back then.  The same cannot be said for today.  Since it’s not politically correct, I must work harder to keep that joy and hope in my heart these days.  It is my prayer that Christ is in your Christmas so that there is wonder and joy as we anticipate and celebrate that holy day of his birth.

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:10-12