We have had several engaging and enjoyable activities this month. Several groups have come by for caroling; we’ve had Christmas games and special meals, visits to see Christmas lights, and a Christmas party that ended with all our elders receiving presents which were supplied by local churches.
We can only try to conceive of Holy God’s love and grace as we contemplate the meaning of our Christmas holiday. Certainly we all know that shopping, parties, food, cards, presents, and Santa all point to celebration, but also stray from the magnificent beauty and wonder of the birth.
What went through the minds of the major characters of the Christmas night story? Mary and Joseph may have been discouraged as they left the gossipers behind and began their journey to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem they couldn’t find a place to stay. Did they wonder where God was and if they had somehow not heard from God correctly? Mary’s song of praise in Luke 1 shows that she was well versed in scripture, but did she know the prophet Micah’s words concerning Bethlehem? When a place to stay was finally secured, she gave birth. We all know something about birth. It is messy, difficult, scary, and infinitely joyous. Where were the angels when Mary and Joseph were deep in the nitty-gritty of life?
And then God spoke to the shepherds through His angels. The shepherds carried their experience of wonder straight to the Christ-child. God chose to use a whole new set of people to encourage and reaffirm His presence and love to Mary and Joseph (and the world)!
If we examine our own life experiences, we may notice that God directs us, then after the glow of His revelation to us has receded, we may have a time of testing as we are required to believe His direction. Finally, with love and grace, He encourages and reaffirms His presence often through unexpected sources.
I thank you, Father, that you sometimes reveal yourself through incredible experiences, but that you often use everyday people and events. Help us to look to You, to listen to you, and to be ever ready to hear your message to us.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. . .Suddenly 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 whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2: 8-9; 13-14