By Jennifer Miller
I love this time of year! Yes, I can talk hours about the lights, the cheerfulness of the crowds, the tree, and the hope for snow (on Christmas Eve of course). I could easily make a lengthy list of the negatives here but focusing on the negatives will not be productive. All of this is fine, but what I love the most is the joy of my Savior being born! While family members and friends are out doing late-in the-game shopping or searching for stocking stuffers, or whether they are out stuffing themselves with delicious appetizers and dinners, I find myself taking a quiet moment and reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas.
Let’s begin with Luke 2:7
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
What an honor was bestowed upon both Mary and Joseph. One was highly favored and chosen to carry our Savior while the other was deemed worthy to be the stepfather to our Lord. Both carried a lofty title, and a heavy heart. This was unfamiliar territory and neither knew if they had the strength or the confidence to do this. God knew of course – for he chose them.
I do not have the power to put myself in their shoes nor am I able to fully see through their lens, but I can empathize with both. They were given this amazing opportunity and they carried it out because they trusted in God.
Can you feel Joseph’s struggle to raise a child he did not help conceive? Can you feel the heat of passersby whose eyes scrutinized Mary? Most have either traveled through or lived in a small town in which news travels much too fast. Most of this news after being parsed by local neighbors, I am sure led to gossip. People love to spread gossip! I would feel like my every movement was being analyzed and commented on salaciously to burning ears determined to get to the bottom of things. Walking on broken glass is never an easy trail to pursue.
Yet they persevered and now came the time for the birth. Mothers prepare their nest and make sure they have all the necessary tools to aid the arrival. However, here a monkey wrench was tossed into the mix. The parents were called to Bethlehem for the census. I can understand the trepidation Mary must have felt. She did not know what labor would be like and then to now be put in unfamiliar territory must have added to her stress. God had a plan, and it was perfect. His soon-to be- delivered Son was coming into the world in a quiet manner – a humble entrance. Here was royalty without any pomp or circumstance, not even a royal announcement.
They tried to find a place to stay, but everything was full. However, God made an opening that one would not normally think about: He provided a stable. Meek and mild. Not fancy by any means. In this stable was a manger and it soon would hold the precious newborn. Have you ever thought about the magnificence of the manger? Yes, it was a feeding trough for the animals, but at this time in Ancient Israel the manger was made of stone for a reason. It was the symbol of protection for the lamb to lay in. Not just any lamb. In Bethlehem there were plenty unblemished perfect lambs who would be used for sacrifice. This manger protected them until their time to die came.
Look closely at that manger and remember the lamb, but also notice the face of our perfect lamb who made the biggest sacrifice of all, Jesus. He came into this world sinless and led a perfect life. People from all over were drawn to Him and became believers. He came to heal the sick and He searched far and wide for those that were lost. He defined what the perfect love – unconditional love- is. It is out of that love and His obedience to the Father to do God’s will that He sacrificed His life so that we can be reconciled with God.
Take a moment and then take a few more moments and let it sink in. Grab a blanket, a handful of Kleenex, and richly meditate on His story. You will be thankful, moved, and you will find that you have received great revelations that will pierce your heart. Tears will flow as you learn the cost He willingly made. Fear not for joy will follow. Bountiful joy that will outweigh any pain. Celebrate His arrival. You will find all the hope and assurance you will ever need in this life. The babe born in swaddling cloths saved me. He called me worthy and forgave me all my sins. I have gained wisdom and understanding through His word. My life has been blessed.
May the good Lord shine His face upon you, and may you search for and find Jesus. Keep the décor and the snow. Leave me to my bible and my Lord. May you all Have a Merry Christmas!