Luke 2:4-7—So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.
John 1:1-3, 14—In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Most of us have a vision in our minds of the perfect Christmas: family gathered around, a clean and sparkling house, a beautifully adorned Christmas tree with piles of lovingly chosen presents under-neath, a feast on the table, and every-one marvelously getting along like the end of a made-for-TV movie.
But what if that is not the reality this year for you, a coworker, a friend, a neighbor, or a relative?
What if a loved one is away serving our country?
What if a serious health issue is in the picture?
What if there are financial difficul-ties?
What if a loved one has died?
What if there are family problems?
IS THE CHRISTMAS SEASON RUINED?
Mary and Joseph were alone and away from home and family in a strange city. They did not have a beautifully decorated house, they did not even have a hotel room. The only place someone had available for them was a stable. The only scents of the season were those of animals in a barn.
Mary, as a young, first-time mother, did not have the blessing of a modern hospital and sanitary conditions, a skilled nursing staff, and childbirth training. Giving birth was painful and messy. Joseph would have been out of his element helping a woman deliver a baby, and perhaps he was dismayed or frustrated that he could not provide better for her in general, but especially in her moment of need.
After the blessed relief of a healthy child safely born, there was little acknowledgment of who this Child was besides the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, and later on, the wise men. Soon they would face the danger of a king bent on killing the Child in their care and the loss of reputation Mary would endure her whole life as many thought her Child was illegitimate.
What did they have then, that lonely, uncomfortable, smelly night? They had the Child of promise. A Child whom they were told to name Jesus, which means “Jehovah saves,” whose very name is a promise, who would reconcile them to God by taking care of their greatest need, who would “save His people from their sin.”
They had the realization that, as the angel told Mary, when first delivering the news that she would bear a child though she was a virgin, this Child was the long-awaited and longed-for Messi-ah, the King, the Son of the Highest. What cause for joy and wonder! They had no idea how it would all work out. But they had the promise, and because of the promise, they had hope.
It’s certainly not wrong to enjoy a decorated tree, presents, wonderful food, and family gathered. But we can celebrate Christmas even if one or all of those elements are missing or less than ideal… because we can celebrate in our own hearts and with those around us that same promise, that same hope. Jesus was born that Christmas morning. He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died so that we would be saved. If that’s all we have this Christmas… that’s more than enough. Merry Christmas!