Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Long Time Bethlehem of Judea

A long time ago a little babe was born of humble birth in a stable in Bethlehem.  Luke 2 retells the story in the Apostle's own words.  The Son of God had been born upon the earth.  Not every detail is known...but then not every detail needs to be.

 People dispute when it actually occurred in the calender year, they argue whether it happened in the fall, winter or spring.  We can be pretty sure it was not actually on December 25th.  They dispute how many wise men there were and when they came.  We hope for as many wise men as possible and we know they did not come at his birth but rather when he was a small child.  But still they have become iconic to the nativity scenes prevalent throughout the Christian world.  In this case I feel the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of it, as we ponder and remember that beautiful night.  It makes for a bigger birthday party with exotic gifts for the King of Kings...I am OK with the spirit of it.

We know that there were shepherds abiding in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night.  "And lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about  them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger."  The star shone brightly, the heavenly host of angels rejoiced in song.  The Shepherds quickly followed the light of that star to the baby Jesus' birthplace where, indeed,  they did find him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

What we can be pretty sure of is that riding on a donkey in Mary's most urgent and delicate condition was not a comfortable journey and that Joseph walked beside her every step of the way.  We can imagine that both Mary and Joseph felt uneasy when her time drew nigh.  They were a long ways away from their home and family and there was no room for them in the Inn.   I might imagine there were some scary moments during that time when her time was accomplished that she should be delivered.  Joseph must have felt helpless and been praying fervently to know how to help her.

Having given birth myself, I can guess she was greatly relieved when he laid her baby in her arms.   And she shivered as her body temperature dropped as it always does after birth.  And she was cold, no matter what season.   I'd guarantee that!   She also no doubt shed some tears of joy, relief, exhaustion and at finally meeting her son with sheer amazement.   Like every new mother her first thoughts after her relief were probably in wonderment...I am a mother..... and now what?  For one thing, my heart will now live outside of my own body for the rest of my life.

As Mary held her new born child and nursed him she fell in the deepest love ever and it has not left her to this day.  And if Joseph had not been her best friend before the birth of her little baby Jesus, he most surely was from that moment on.  What a man of kindness, deep faith and unconditional love.  The sacredness of those few hours lasted and changed them both.  And the rest of us.  Forever.

They showed us all how to go forward in faith when they did not know all the details either.   They just trusted in God and went forward in complete obedience.  On that special night God The Father and Mary and Joseph bore a child.  Although Jesus was God's only begotten son in the flesh, is He not a part of every sacred triangle when a child is born?  I felt that and knew that when I bore our first child. God was most definitely a part of what happened that day.  As it changed changed me in like manner.

Not such a long time ago, by Biblical standards, I was a young mother myself trying to create some symbols of that scared night in Bethlehem for our little family.  I took a ceramics class and made this nativity set for our family. It was all we could afford at the time.   It is not fancy or professionally done but it was done with my time and love which was all that I had.  It was around as the kids were growing up every single Christmas.

Since then we have gotten another very elegant Nativity set but most years it remains collecting dust in the box.  Every year the father of those beautiful little babes of ours says how much he loves that nativity set I made and how he hopes I will put it out this year.  So every year I do it for him.  It is the very least I can do for this wonderful, humble, obedient follower of Christ who has been a husband every bit as wonderful and kind as Mary's Joseph.

If you are like Mary I hope you praise your good "Joseph" for his faith and helpfulness and kindness and obedience to God.  If you are like Joseph  may you treat your "Mary" with loving respect and tenderness always. What you do will have a long lasting affect on those that emulate you and admire you and want to be like you someday.  We are never released from our stewardship as loving mothers or fathers.  And the most beneficial thing we can ever do for our children is to treat their other parent with all the love and respect they deserve. We as spouses and parents and children of God must keep all these things and ponder them in our hearts.  What we do and how we treat each other is significant every single day.  There are  sweet lessons to learn in this simple telling of the birth of the Savior of the World.


Sister Susie said...

I can't begin to imagine the glory the shepherds witnessed when the Heavenly hosts of angels began to sing to the glory of GOD! One day, The Day, we shall be apart of that Heavenly host! What glory GOD the Father, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit has instore for all of those that belong to Him!
Merry Christmas, Susan