As the craziness and busyness of the Christmas season fades, as you start to put away the gifts you'll never use and enjoy the rest, one thing that has been on my mind this season is the aspect real. This year, I've been dwelling on the reality of Jesus' birth. It is so much more than just a story, any other story. It's real. It's hope. It's love in it's purest form. Imagine..
A young girl, being informed of news that would change the world, yet cause her to be shunned by friends, family, and neighbors alike, possibly even stoned. Not with little pebbles either, but with big, heavy, hard rocks.
The shock of hearing that news as a virgin.
The responsibility of caring for the little child inside of her.
The disbelief that the child she's carrying, he's actually the Holy Son of the God she follows. And because of her desire to earnestly follow Him, the submission she had to His plan.
In the months to follow, she probably doubted, and she most likely worried. Her emotions were probably crazy. Joy and peace, insanity and insecurity. And then, towards the end, she actually had to take the trip to Bethlehem with Joseph.
This trip wasn't easy, or quick. It took many days and many cold, uncomfortable nights. The road was long and weary, and the path bumpy and dusty ridden on the back of a donkey. The donkey was probably a pain to ride on, being dirty and dusty itself. Loaded down with supplies and food, travel was probably slow.
Finally, at last, they reached the little town. But when they got there and entered the city, they likely had to wait in long lines, full of people, crowded with animals, and everyone tired and cranky, making Mary and Joseph that much more tired.
Wearily walking to the center of town, to the inns, they quietly knocked on the doors. But at each place, they were turned away. Each and every time. How discouraging would that be? Trudging by now, they found the a stable full, but not completely packed with animals. That stable was smelly, and humid, and dirty, and loud. Everything a barn now would be. They were crowded, in the dirty, prickly hay as God's gift came into the world. Into those ugly, messy circumstances, Someone holy was born, a baby, crying in the cold night air.
And in that moment, everything that Mary had endured, everything that Joseph had endured, everything that the world has endured was made worth it. As Mary looked into the face of God's Son she was breathless, awestruck by the reality of it, yet it was still so unfathomable. In her arms was the babe that she had endured pain and persecution for, the baby that God so freely gave to all of us, in the middle of our mess. He was the baby that is now changing the hearts of so many around the world. That is the reality of Christmas. A gift, freely given, into our brokenness, to save this fallen world.
Christmas is so much more than a season, a story, presents, and trees. It's not about gifts, but about the Gift, a holy One, given to us. The miracle of that is alive and pulsing through this season and through the year. You can experience the reality of this gift, too, if you only believe. Just believe in the life of Christ Jesus who came into this world humbly, as a baby, born in a stable.
This a song by Brandon Heath, and I think it captures what I'm trying to express here. The reality of His birth. Enjoy. :)
Much love to you all. I hope you all had a merry Christmas, in awe of the Baby who was born, for us, so many years ago.