Merry Christmas from Mulberry Street! I have been reflecting a lot about Jesus’ birth the last few days in anticipation of tomorrow, and thought I might share some of my thoughts with you.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Christmas gets busy. For a lot of us, Christmas means card writing, present shopping, cookie baking, charitable giving, party planning, relative visiting, and a whole lot of other things that are very good intentioned and very time consuming. The birth of Jesus is central to a lot of these activities and is most often our spiritual focus in December. Christmas Cantatas, Plays, Choral Arrangements, and Sermons fill in the context surrounding Jesus arrival in Bethlehem and the beginning of God’s redemptive plan. It’s a beautiful story: God is with us.
But over the last two days I’ve been a little troubled. We have been working our way through Advent in our Bible study, each week focusing on a different aspect of the Christmas Story. But in spite of all the prophecies, and stories of Bethlehem, shepherds, and angels; I was having trouble relating to the child in the manger. God is with us…but does He know what I’m dealing with?
Sometimes all the busyness of Christmas works as a mask or a temporary relief for and from the struggles that life brings our way. Come January I feel the void again. And it’s my fault…I’ve made the truth of Christmas a seasonal thing: God was with us; He did his job; and then He left again. He came, He conquered Sin and Death, and returned Home. Meanwhile, me and my friends can’t get out of our own way…still struggling with petty vices, doubts, and harsh realities.
But I think I missed something, so let’s take a look at the baby’s life:
His mother endured a scandalous pregnancy, resulting in rumors that would follow Him the rest of His life.
He was born and placed in a trough intended for animals.
He was a refugee as a toddler, escaping slaughter, and growing up in a foreign country.
He was the step-son of a poor carpenter.
He would spend over three years dependent upon the hospitality of others, with no home to call his own, and no family that would claim him.
He felt hunger in the desert, was deserted in the garden, and forsaken on the cross.
And after His greatest victory, His closest friends still doubted him.
And now He is with us.
My deepest pains, He has experienced. My strongest loneliness, he has realized. My darkest doubts, He has processed…and He’s with me.
This Christmas, I can smile because my prayers have been heard by a Man like me….with me. For those of you who are hurting and wondering who knows your pain, you have a Savior who has lived in poverty and despair, and who is ready to bear your burdens. It’s the miracle I found this Christmas.
Grace and Peace