Happy New Year!
It has been a while since I’ve posted. But I am back now!
Life has definitely kept me busy. Between work, class, papers, friends, travel, I have been pretty busy, plus I just haven’t known what to write. But I know now.
I don’t know your family traditions, but for me, every Christmas morning my family sits down and reads the story of Christ’s birth from Luke 2. No matter how many times I have heard it, or have the pleasure of hearing in the matter of weeks, one thing remains the same. I cry. Sometimes big crocodile tears, sometimes I manage just weepy watery eyes. But I cry.
In my quiet time this week I started reading through Luke. Last night I focused on Luke chapter 1 and 2. In Luke chapter 1 Zechariah and Elizabeth are barren (also they are “advanced in years”). Then while he was bringing incense in the temple (1:10) the angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah. He tells Zechariah that Elizabeth is going to have a son and that they should name him John. But Zechariah doubts the angel, and until the day of John’s birth, he becomes mute.
Can you imagine that? Being barren or infertile in today’s terms, but not only fertile, but “advanced in years”? Meaning that it would be very very difficult to become pregnant. But the angel tells Zechariah, and Elizabeth is with child. I would think that would be very surreal and if your like me, you would think it impossible.
After all of this the angel Gabriel goes to Mary, she is a virgin and betrothed to Joseph. They were not yet married. The angel declares to her that she will bear a son and she is to call Him Jesus. But more than that the angel tells Mary exactly who her son will be.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom there will be no end.” -Luke 1:30-33
This is an impossible thing. Mary is a virgin, she cannot be with child. But more so, she is to give birth to a king. a king who will reign forever. -Mary did you know?- Like wow!
Moving along to chapter 2, the decree is sent out by Caesar, there is to be a census, so everyone must go to their own town. So Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem. That isn’t an easy trip to take while pregnant (I imagine) especially knowing that they didn’t have cars and modern amenities. But they arrive in Bethlehem and there is no room at the inn. (Probably because of all of the people who have been traveling home for the census). So they stayed in a stable, a place for animals. Mary went into labor and had her son in a barn. I can’t even imagine. Births a precious moments, even in places that aren’t ideal. Mary takes her son, wraps him in cloth and lays him down in a feeding trough.
How humbling. There were no hospitals or even open beds for Mary to give birth, she laid in a stable to have her child. It is a meager and humble beginning. This image, this event reminds me of the least of these. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus is a grown man and is sharing parables, and he says whatever you do to the least of these you have done to me (that is a rough paraphrase). This is very humbling to read and think about.
Then I think about God as Jesus father. I think about it in terms of a father son relationship. If you knew your child was going to die, but more than that suffer, how could you still send him? I am not a mother yet, but I have been a babysitter and a nanny. I can’t imagine letting anything bad or harmful near any one of the children in my care. What kind of pain and hurt must that have caused you Lord? I think of Abraham and Isaac from Genesis 22. You were just testing Abrahams faithfulness. You told him to sacrifice his son, but you allowed Isaac to be spared. I cannot fully fathom your love for us. You did not allow your son to be spared. He died to pay the price for my sins.
My brain and my heart cannot fathom. But I am grateful. Cause if you had not sent your son. If Jesus had not come to live on the earth, where would I be today. What would my world look like? Would it be hell on earth? Would you have already turned your back on us? You made a promise (covenant) with Noah that you would never again flood the earth, but would you have annihilated us like another version of Sodom and Gomorrah ? I am reconciled that I may never know the answer to those questions, but I am humbled and grateful that you did send Jesus, and I am glad that He died on the cross, because now I can have an audience with you, and I can have a relationship with you, because my sins are covered by Jesus’ blood. I am made new. You are loving and forgiving.
Just knowing that is so comforting and overwhelming. That I cannot help but tear up when I read the Christmas story, when I read about how Isaac was spared while your Son was not, when I think about the widows and orphans and the least of these. My heart becomes heavy with sadness, but even more my heart is overwhelmed with love and joy and comfort. I remember that I fail, but then I remember that your mercies are new every morning. Thats why I love sunrises and sunsets. They remind me of your promises and of your character.