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    The First Christmas

    Thursday, December 25, 2014

    “There it is Mary, can you see it?” 

    She lifted her head and nodded. Surely they were almost there and he was right.

    They had traveled for so long now that everything was beginning to look the same. It wouldn’t have been so much of a weighty task of a trip but there was this man next to her. A man she barely knew-had really never known fully-and he was suddenly everywhere she was, all of the time. (Can you imagine?)

    Bless his heart; he was doing the best he could after all. He’d just been handed a life size task by an Angel in the middle of the night! What was a boy supposed to do with such news? He was sure to put his life and hers both in danger if he didn’t obey because there wasn’t a chance anyone else was going to believe them. He wouldn’t dare to do such a thing.

    It wasn’t every day that an Angel of the Lord appeared and delivered such news as:

    Dear Joseph and Mary: your lives are about to change forever. The Chosen One, the one we’ve all been waiting for? Yes, that One. I’m about to place him inside of you to be birthed to the waiting Universe. Don’t name him John or Frank or Harry, name him Jesus. Because he is more than a baby, He is a Savior and he will save people from sin!

     “How much longer, Joseph? Are we almost there?” 

    She looked up at him, her eyes weary. She hoped they were almost at Bethlehem because there was this baby and he was coming. This precious unborn baby lay still inside of her and she didn’t know much about all of this yet, but she knew his birth was near.

    Her pain was more intense now and the minutes felt like hours as they made their last steps into Bethlehem. If getting there weren't hard enough they were rejected time and again once they entered the city. Turns out that tax season makes a room hard to come by.

    "Please, sir. I'm afraid you don't understand."

    If I close my eyes I can almost hear the desperation in young Joseph's voice. The weight of the world must have been on his shoulders. Here he'd been handed this task from on high. He'd listened and obeyed every glaring step of the way and now he couldn't even find a place for this Son of Christ to be born.

    But he didn't have time to panic. He was much too composed for that anyhow. He had heard that  when babies come they sometimes have a mind of their own and he knew that meant it couldn't be much longer. He looked around quickly as plan A turned into plan B and right in front of his eyes he saw it and he knew.

    They found their way into the stable barn and there on that starry night in Bethlehem, the Christ Child entered into Mary’s arms. Into the world he came on a mission. Soft cries filled the stable room and the young parents fed him, wrapped him in manger clothes and stared straight into the face of God.

    The Angel’s sang, the shepherd’s bowed, wise men brought gifts and Heaven rejoiced.

    Mary counted ten fingers and ten toes. She looked at his tiny face and her heart flooded with love. Her questions of "Why me" turned into silent grateful tears as she rocked the small body of the one who would save her soul.

    I love to daydream about what that first Christmas was like. Can you imagine the marvel and the wonder? The fear of such a task coupled with the awe of who He was must have been overwhelming. Surely there would be moments of pure bliss mixed with sheer terror. A dichotomy of sorts, it must have been, to hold and parent the Christ child.

    My heart warms as I think Mary. Anyone who has given birth knows there are not enough words in any language to string together to really capture what the heart feels in that moment. If that weren't enough, he was what the whole world had been waiting for too!

    I wonder if it ever occurred to her the day he was born that she would have to stand at the foot of the cross one day and watch Him die?  She knew that he would save people from their sins, the Angel had told her that much already. But did she know how? When?

    What a mighty young man of God Joseph must have been. Frightened out of his mind, he didn't take the easy way out. He could have, but he too was determined to accomplish the mission of the Most High.

    So he raised Jesus. Can you imagine raising Jesus, and teaching him how to read a book and tie his shoes and clean up after dinner each night?

    No, it was no ordinary day in Bethlehem on this anniversary day marked over two thousand years ago.

    It was the most extraordinary situation ever on the face of the earth. We're still reeling from it. We'll never get over it. We still celebrate it with pomp and circumstance and awe each year because it is just as real to us now as it must have been to them so long ago.

    He was born to them and He lives in us.

    That's a gift I will treasure forever.

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