Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Greatest Gift

When I was growing up, every Christmas my brother, sister, and I would exchange gifts. The hardest part of the process for the giver was to wrap it so that the receiver of the gift would not know what it was. Of course, we would feel and shake the packages and try to pry clues out of one another about the gift we were getting. Many times, the gifts were guessed before they were unwrapped on Christmas Day.

One year my brother bought me the 45 RPM record of the latest Elvis Presley hit. It was too odd – shaped for a box, so he had to wrap it in a way that I would not guess what it was. I recall that he wrapped something else with it, like one of his figurines or a ball so it was an odd-looking package. I tried hard to figure out what it was and even guessed it to be a 45 record, but my brother denied it. His clues were such that it made me believe that it was something unusual. He really made it sound like it was the most awesome gift he had ever gotten me or that anyone would get me.

I remember when I opened the gift to find that it was the 45 RPM record, I was disappointed. He had done such a good job of describing it to me that I anticipated silver, gold and diamonds. Of course, when I look back on what he said, he did describe it accurately, but it was my expectation and imagination that took me down a different path.

When I think of that Christmas gift, I am reminded that Jesus’s birth was much the same. His birth was foretold hundreds of years before it happened. While the clues given were accurate, it was all based on interpretation and hope. The Jewish people were basically expecting a great King that would come and destroy their enemies (the Romans). They would rise and be a great people again.

Jesus as a human met none of their expectations. Yes, He is a great King and will destroy our enemies and those who believe will be a great people. All this is from an eternal perspective and not from a human finite one.

Jesus was born while his parents were traveling. His hospital was a stable, and his cradle was a food receptacle for animals. Although, both his parents were descendants of King David, they had no status and were poor and quiet. Jesus had left His heavenly throne to become like those He loved so dearly – human.

His birth did not pass without some heavenly fanfare to mark the occasion. There was a bright, unusual star and the host of heavenly angels praising God to mark the birth of God’s only Son. These events brought shepherds and eventually, wise men to worship Him. Those whose hearts longed for and were opened to Him found Him. That still happens to this day.

Jesus was born in humble surroundings and was a servant. He loved people and wanted to save them from the things that ruins lives and causes broken relationships. He is more concerned with our soul and eternity than our physical being and earthly status. His desire is for us to love one another and love God above all else. He came in physical form as a child to give us a glimpse of God, so we would know Him. Christmas is a time to reflect on Jesus and our relationship with Him. We can rejoice in the fact that He’s walked in our shoes and is a God who truly knows us. Praise God for sending Jesus to us!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

A Holy Announcement

This time thirty years plus ago, my husband and I and our two girls were anticipating the birth of a baby, who was due around Christmas. A few months prior, we learned from a sonogram that we were having a boy. There was a celebratory atmosphere – not only because it was Christmas, but because of the imminent arrival of a long-awaited son. We had both wanted a boy because my husband was the last of his line, and we already had two girls.

Because our son was born so close to Christmas and because he is our only son, I often think of Mary during the holidays. We both were waiting for the birth of our sons about the same time of year. Yet, her situation was much more miraculous than mine. It’s in comparing the experiences of our pregnancies that I stand amazed at Mary’s faith and strength and how special her pregnancy with Jesus really was.

The fact that Mary and I both excitedly anticipated the births of our sons is about the only similarity we have. At conception, my baby had roughly a 50-50 chance of being a boy. Mary had a 100% chance of having a boy because God placed His Son in her womb. She did not have sexual relations with any man. This miracle was the culmination of a promise given to Abraham stating that all nations would be blessed through his descendants. Mary’s son was that descendant through which the world is blessed.

When I was six months along, I had a sonogram announce that we would have a son. We couldn’t wait to tell everyone we were having a boy! We were so excited. But Mary had an angel visit her and announce it to her. And he told her before she even became pregnant. Can you imagine being told you are going to have God’s son? I know she had to be scared at first, and then the awe probably set in. Because she was single, she was not running around announcing it. It was kept quiet.

Mary was pregnant out of wedlock, and her baby was God’s son not her fiancée’s. God had to intervene with Joseph on her behalf. or she would have been alone and much maligned by society. Joseph stayed in the marriage contract and stood by Mary. It was a very public and difficult pregnancy from society standpoint. I would not know what that was like. I was married and had the support of my husband. I did not have to deal with shame or being maligned as Mary did.

Jesus’s conception and Mary’s pregnancy are not like any other human’s. He was conceived as fully human and fully God. His conception was announced by an angel. He was not conceived the way most humans are conceived. He was place in her womb by God Himself. His mother was a young unmarried girl who was still a virgin. There was not a lot of earthly celebration for Mary’s pregnancy. Only Heaven, Mary, Joseph and a few family members knew the truth and had great anticipation for what was about to happen. The rest of the world did not care about Mary’s baby. He was just another Jewish baby about to be born.

Today we can look at the facts and celebrate that Mary’s pregnancy was uniquely from God. That the baby about to enter the world was God’s Son through which all the world would be blessed. The Savior was about to be born!

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Luke 1:30-33