“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ But Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Luke 1:26-34
What a day! Imagine that you are a young lady, most likely closer to a child by today’s standards, alone in a room. Maybe you are folding clothes, or darning socks, or any of a hundred other chores of the day. Suddenly, an angel appears. What did he look like? A person? The feathery-winged Christmas card version? A ghostly being? Whatever the vision, the shock of his appearance is soon replaced by his appalling announcement. YOU. ARE. PREGNANT! But you know what causes that, and it can’t be! Did Mary know of the prophesied Son of God? Had she any idea that He would be born of a virgin? How must it have felt to be told you are having THE child?! As soon as that information is digested, your next thought has to be “how do I tell my betrothed.” Now that is a stressful day! Despite her words of acceptance to Gabriel, surely she sat there for a while, stunned, after his departure. Who did she tell first? Was she excited? Apprehensive? A little of both? What did she say to Joseph? How amazed and thankful was she that, after the angel appeared in his dreams, he accepted her and her Son?
Flash forward several months. You are heavy with child. Your back aches, you can’t find a comfortable position in which to sleep, and everything gives you heartburn. Caesar Augustus has proclaimed that a census must be taken, and Joseph says you must both travel to Bethlehem to be counted. You will spend at least 4 days walking and riding a donkey no less than 70 miles. Then you arrive to find no rooms are available, and you must sleep in a smelly, itchy barn! Was she frustrated? Or was she just so exhausted that she didn’t care? Before long, you feel the first signs that His time has come. The King is going to arrive, in this place, at this time. God’s time. Did she see it that way?
I have always LOVED Christmas…the lights, the songs, the smiles, the cold weather, the food, the miracle birth…well, just everything! Before our full-time RV adventure, I would start decorating the house in October to have plenty of time to enjoy the lights…and because it was a LOT of decorating! There would be parties, and family dinners, friends, and gifts, love and laughter. But over the last couple of years, we sold our long-time home; tragedy took over Christmas in 2019; our home base was relocated to Sneedville, where we don’t have a large “friend circle” yet; the kids and Boogers moved in other directions; and Covid restrictions took over Christmas 2020. So, I have looked forward to this year’s season for months…the Christmas parade, singing ALL of the songs over and over, the Christmas Eve-Eve service at church, etc. Instead of jingle bells, however, the last few weeks have been filled with sleepless nights over unsharable family issues. Then, just after the parade, Mr. Wonderful (MW) got Covid. Ugh! About the time he was coming out of it, I tested positive. Ding dang! The singing and church services had to be cancelled because others were also sick. Blast! Christmas was RUINED! Again!
More than 2,000 years ago, a young girl sweated and groaned through labor in a barn. There is no indication of how long it took, but it was way before the conveniences of modern medicine. It was inevitably painful and scary, but in the end, she was blessed with a beautiful baby boy. Any woman who has given birth remembers the moment she first laid eyes on her child; the one she felt moving and talked and sang to for months. That little human changes your world. In the case of Mary, her’s was so much more.
Guess what?! Today we woke up, and IT’S CHRISTMAS!!! It came anyway! No big singing, no Eve-Eve Service, no family dinner, and still, it came! Why? Because none of that is important. It doesn’t matter if we are happy or grieving. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have a tree or have a million lights. It doesn’t matter if we are alone or in a crowd. It doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor. It doesn’t matter if we are healthy or sick. CHRISTMAS. ALWAYS. COMES. That birth in that barn guarantees it. PERIOD.
It’s so easy to fall into pooh pooh mouth and bah humbug, but no more! This morning I am working on optimism and good cheer, trusting that God has our worries well in hand. I’m thanking Him for the multitude of blessings…like a mild case of Covid versus a hospital stay or worse, this lovely town in these beautiful mountains, family, friends new and old, and safe travels.
Finally, on this beautiful, grey, windy morning, I wish you peace and warmth deep in your soul; the kind that comes from the knowledge that Jesus was born and you are LOVED. Merry Christmas!
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