The Bluebird Café and Bookstore is a charming shop, located on Main Street in Hutchinson, Kansas. Whenever I visit my daughter we make a trip to this bookstore. As I walked through the aisles this time a colorful picture book caught my eye.
Christmas in the Barn was written by Margaret Wise Brown. My daughter and I paged through the book, enjoying the rhythm of the words. The animals came near the birth of the babe in the ancient barn.
The pictures enhanced the story told in poetic form. After the shepherds came, the bright star shining above the barn guided the wise men to the barn. The words are a lyrical version of the story recorded in the book of Luke.
So many wonderful parts to the record of Jesus’ incarnation. I like to think about the shepherd’s response.
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us”. And they went with haste . . . Luke 2:15-16a
The shepherds saw God’s plan of salvation beginning to unfold. Now we have the Bible with the full story and the opportunity to draw near to the Savior.
This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is NEAR. Visit this community and join the fun by clicking here.
Here is a portion of the Christmas letter that I wrote on December 4th and sent out with our cards:
The homes in our neighborhood are decorated for Christmas, and today we had our first snowfall. The trees sparkle with white icing. At church we sang Christmas carols and wrote cards for Christians that are currently imprisoned for their faith.
Our hope for this beautiful world, created by God, but broken by sin, rests in God’s plan of salvation through Jesus. Job, a man of faith in the Old Testament, has words of hope. For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25
The apostle John wrote about about God’s plan of salvation in his gospel. John recorded the words of Jesus. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 This is the gift of Christmas.
Many thanks to all my readers and my best wishes for joy in the New Year!
The nativity image is courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com
Who is your favorite character in Star Wars? When Han Solo and then R2– D2 made their appearance in the new movie the audience gave them a round of applause. The first Star Wars movie came out during the first year of my marriage. I saw it with my husband. The scenes were amazing and we were engrossed in the story. Later we watched episodes with our children.
When my husband suggested that we see episode VII on opening night I realized that the evening was open. The local theater had a continuum of times available. So we went. How would this movie compare with the others?
Leia and Han Solo have aged—as we have. Young people, a new generation, carried the action. They wondered at the old stories. Were they legend or true?
The narrative of Star Wars is based on the truth that good and evil exist. The quest for truth and rightness is tucked deep in our soul. Sometimes we have to fight for it.
The grief and pain of “the dark side” is also true.
While Star Wars refers to “the force”, the Bible teaches us about our God. The prophet Jeremiah lived through a tumultuous time on earth and clearly stated the source of truth and rightness.
This is what the Lord says:
Cursed is the one who trusts in man and who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
He will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17: 5-10
Jeremiah suffered physically. He did not have material gain but he understood spiritual life. God is the source of our strength and joy.
We went to Christmas concerts and programs this December—and Star Wars. Our joy and strength comes from God’s great gift. Jesus came to redeem us! We have much to celebrate this Christmas season.
As I sat down to write our annual Christmas letter I was reflecting on gospel accounts by Matthew and Luke. It is apparent that the people of Judea lived in fearful times under Roman rule. Injustice, corruption and violence were common. A young woman lived in Nazareth, north of Judea, during this turbulent time.
My thoughts turned to Mary—and the grace shown to her by God. God sent an angel to speak directly with her. The angel gives her an amazing message.
And the angel said to her, “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 the 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 of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1: 30-33
Wow! Mary asks how this is possible, and then responds with obedience.
And Mary said, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1: 38
We know that Mary was encouraged and guided by her cousin Elizabeth. ( Luke 1: 39-56) God’s timing for the pregnancies of these two women was a provision and a gift. The two women spent three months together. Elizabeth gave birth just months before Mary.
The time spent with Elizabeth prepared Mary for her own labor and birth—not that it was easy. She was away from Nazareth and her family.
And Joseph went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:4-7
As a labor/delivery nurse I have worked in hospitals with all the technology and interventions that are common today. I am pleased that God chose to send Jesus to a young woman who would give birth simply. The design of her body was enough. Perhaps she had a midwife with her. The scripture doesn’t tell us.
My experience with home birth helps me get an idea of the birth of Jesus. Birth can be a natural physiologic process. I saw the way endorphins (natural pain relief hormones released by the body) assisted women during labor. With position changes they were able to cope with contractions that gradually became more intense. I also saw women and their husbands lean in to prayer, seeking strength from God. It was both refining and empowering.
Mary is an example for us. She was obedient and resilient. She knew the scriptures and the history of God’s faithfulness to Israel. She trusted God.
God is good. He is sovereign. The birth of Jesus is a magnificent chapter in God’s plan of salvation.