And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
God’s amazing design is before us in the birth of Jesus. Jesus did not enter our world as an adult. He came as an infant, fully human and also God.
He wasn’t born in a palace or a hospital equipped with modern technology. His birth was dependent on the natural physical ability of a young woman to give birth.
God didn’t need human intervention to carry out his plan for our good. This fills me with joy and trust. We can rest, knowing God is sovereign over our world.
Luke, the physician wrote in his gospel: And while they [Joseph and Mary] were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in manger because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2: 6-7
Christmas, the day that we commemorate Jesus’ birth, is coming. Last night we attended a concert titled Night of Glory. It was good to pause from my errands, cookie baking, and card writing. I listened to the story of God’s amazing gift, told in song. The concert began with the orchestra playing Farandole (March of the Kings).
The wise men had a star in the night sky to lead them to the promised Savior. We have the Bible—old and new testament. In both prophecy and in the gospels, Jesus comes into the world bringing light.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2
The gospel of John tells about the Savior coming to earth.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. . . John 1: 9-12
I remember the times that the electricity in our home was disrupted by a storm. When the power was off we looked for flashlights and candles. We needed light to dispel the darkness, to see where we were going.
In the same way we need a relationship with God through Jesus. We live in a world darkened by sin. Jesus gives direction for our life.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
After Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden God said, I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing; withpain you will give birth to children. Genesis 3:16
Was this a punishment or a way of reminding Eve to seek God’s help?
In my own life, periods of suffering have motivated me to communicate with God. When our son was diagnosed with leukemia I experienced great emotional pain. I learned to open my heart and ask God the questions that were weighing heavily. The Psalms were helpful in guiding my prayers. I prayed for God’s help and guidance.
Pain can cause us to pause and seek help.
For a period of time I attended women who labored and gave birth at home. As labor intensified they sometimes prayed. One mother asked her husband to pray. Another mama asked me to pray.
As I observed the prayers I saw faith and motherhood in a new way. Beginning motherhood with a prayer for God’s help was right.
Christmas is coming. Do you wonder about the birth of Jesus? Certainly Mary experienced pain. What was it like for Mary?
Yes, there was pain and stress but God demonstrated great love and grace in the incarnation.
Jesus experienced the ultimate pain as he approached death on the cross. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22: 42-44
This advent season we have attended beautiful concerts. Our grandchildren participated in a Christmas program at their church. The fours & fives sang Away in a Manger. Older children read scripture and sang additional Christmas carols. Advent is a time to share the celebration of Christ’s birth with others.
I have been writing Christmas cards and receiving messages from friends that date back to my high school and college days. Our friendship continues.
Christmas is a time that ties family and friends together. And yet, some of the deepest pain comes from loss and broken relationships during the holidays.
God sent Jesus to an imperfect human family. This is significant. Jesus lived a sinless life in a human family and then offered himself as payment for our sin. He offers us salvation and the opportunity to become a member of God’s family . . . forever!
When we reflect on this truth we see God’s great love for us and find the joy of Christmas.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46: 10
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.