Sunday, December 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Jesus

It’s almost time. A chill is in the air, people are laughing and singing, the madness of the season is going strong. Christmas Time is Here! So much to do because Santa Claus is coming to Town 

Ring those Silver Bells - there are parties to attend, gifts to purchase, packages to wrap and lots of food to prepare. Are you Rockin Around the Christmas Tree?  Christmas trees to purchase, lights to hang and we can’t forget to Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly.  Candy to make, cookies to bake, dinners to plan and friends to see.

It is going to get craaaa-ra-zy.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus last year but this year I am going to be doing the Jingle Bell Rock with Santa Baby myself - move over mommy. And oh yeah, I hope we have a White Christmas.

I am singing Christmas songs today! Can you tell?!?

Stop. Just stop. Let’s crank it back a few notches.  Why don’t we crank it back a few thousand years? All the way back to the Silent Night, Holy Night Are you with me?

Relax for a moment and let's savor the Christmas story.

A long time ago there was a small, somewhat insignificant, town called Nazareth.  An average little town and definitely not a Christmas Winter Wonderland. There were many farmers, fishermen and shepherds. The women worked preparing meals and making clothes for the family. Children laughed and played just like all children do.

The people of Nazareth had never experienced a Christmas celebration. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer had never landed on their housetop. Santa had never paid a visit.

Mary was a young women in Nazareth.  She was in her teenage years and engaged to be married.  She lived a life pleasing to God. Mary’s parents hand-picked her future husband for her. His name was Joseph. Joseph came from a good family and worked in the trade of carpentry.  He was an honest man and he loved God.

Mary Did You Know?

One day the angel, Gabriel, visited Mary.  Mary had never actually seen an angel before and was a bit taken back.  The angel said to Mary, “Greetings, you who are highly favored.  The Lord is with you.”  Mary didn’t know what to make out of all this.  The angel reassured her and said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  He will reign forever, His kingdom will never end.” 

I can imagine how Mary was totally freaking out at this moment. She was talking to an angel, people! If that’s not enough for one day, I am not sure what is.  The angel told her that she would become pregnant. She wasn’t married yet, plus she was a virgin. Crazy stuff.

Mary asked the angel, “How will this be since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered her once again and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.  Nothing is impossible with God.”  Mary humbly replied to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”  When the angel left, she stood there completely alone and beyond belief of the events that had just happened. 

Mary then hurried off to do the normal “girl thing” and confide in her cousin, Elizabeth. She had to tell someone. Elizabeth was pregnant and was much older than Mary.  When Mary greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s
baby danced in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Elizabeth excitedly said, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear.”  Elizabeth helped Mary understand and accept what a great honor was hers. Mary’s heart was filled with joy and she sang a joyful song unto the Lord.

Now Joseph is hanging out doing his thing and totally unaware of any of the events that have happened to his bride to be.  He is doing the normal “man thing” and has no clue what was about to happen to him.  Joseph didn't get an angel like Mary did. When Mary told Joseph that she was pregnant, he was dismayed and wondered how he could ever marry her if she was expecting someone else’s baby.  He was sad and confused.  I think we could safely assume that Joseph was in no mood to be singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

God took care of Joseph’s fear later sending another angel to speak to him.  The angel said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name “Jesus” because He will save his people from their sins.”  Joseph was still confused about the whole thing but because of his love for God, he did what the angel said and married Mary. 

Near the end of Mary’s pregnancy the ruler of the Roman Empire wanted a census of the people for tax purposes.  The people were told to travel back to the town where they originated to register. Joseph and Mary traveled from Nazareth to the Little Town of Bethlehem.

Mary was massively pregnant by this time and had to make the long, hard trip in her condition.  It was many miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Mary rode on their Donkey and walked when she could. Poor Mary. One would tend to wonder why the Almighty God would allow the mother of His Christ Child to endure such a journey.  But God had the master plan.  He knew exactly what He was doing and how everything was going to work out.

When they arrived in Bethlehem they found the city was packed.  All the hotels were booked and there were no accommodations in the entire town.  Mary was very tired. Joseph was doing everything he could to comfort her and to find her a place to sleep. After much searching, Joseph found a stable with vacancy in the straw.

And then it happened. 

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear right there in the stable with all the animals and dirt. The Christ Child was born. This was God’s Greatest Gift of All to all the people.  Angels from the Realms of Glory were singing and dancing and praising God and celebrating. Mary took her baby, wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.  On this holy night, the lives of the people of Bethlehem along with the people of all the world, would change forever.

Joy to the World the Lord has come!

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night on one of the hillsides sloping down from Bethlehem, something very unusual was about to happen.  Actually, the shepherds needed a little excitement because their job was a bit boring.  As they sat there with their flocks, listening for any signs of danger in the distance - it happened.  Suddenly, through a bright and shining display of light the angel of the Lord appeared.  The shepherds were terrified. They jumped back and were prepared to run for their lives.

The angel calmed them and said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the Little Town of Bethlehem a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Then a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on who his favor rests.”  

Can you even begin to imagine?  The shepherds were hanging with the sheep when all of these glorious beings surrounded them. What an incredible sight.

The shepherds found Him just as the angels had said.  They were so excited they spread the good news to others. Everyone was amazed.

As the brilliance of a shinning star cast a bright light down to the place where the baby lay, people began coming to see Him. The star led three wise men to the Christ Child. They presented Him with gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.  They bowed down and worshiped Him. They knew in their heart their King had been born. 

God’s gift of love to all people is not only eternal life but other wonderful things as well. It is joy to the depressed, healing for the brokenhearted, freedom for those in bondage and food for the spiritually hungry. But most of all is is pure love. This gift is the ultimate bread of life and is truly what makes life worth living.

Jesus is just cool.

He is all about the Love.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

My goal for 2014 is to be more like Mary - to accept and enjoy the things that God hands me on a silver platter, and to be more like Joseph - to accept the challenges that God throws at me. I am sure He will give me both - He wouldn't have it any other way! And as always, to be a more like Jesus every, single day.

Christmas.  It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year because of this great gift that God gave His people.  When we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the birth Jesus. He brought pure Joy to the World. During the countdown to Christmas, take some time for a Silent Night to remember this wonderful gift from God.  Remember Him as you go through the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season. 

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!


*Text quoted from the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John
NIV Bible –  Zondervan Bible Publishers.