Sunday, December 18, 2011

We're getting closer to Bethlehem . . .

On this fourth Sunday of Advent we focus on Love. The love of God come down. The mystery of the incarnation. Emmanuel. God with us.

This morning at church the kids sang "Away in a Manger." They did such a good job, I am very proud of them. Watching young minds and hearts begin to understand the Bible and God's love is so beautiful. Christmas is such a good time to get them excited about worshiping our Lord, even if it's only a simple song about baby Jesus in a stable.

Yesterday afternoon, the women of our church got together for a Christmas brunch. Our speaker encouraged us to read the Christmas story with new eyes, to unpack the familiar words, and see the deeper meaning. It's not only about the Nativity--that one night in Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus is only the beginning. We are in the middle. The conclusion is still to come. But one day soon, it will come. May we have righteous faith like Mary and Joseph, the hopeful longing of the Shepherds, and expectant hearts like the Wise Men as we wait.

 Mary was not called blessed because she bore the Son of God, but because she accepted God's will with unhindered faith.  Not many of us can boast of such an attitude. Fear and a short-sightedness get in the way. But even as a poor, illiterate maiden in a rural town, Mary knew of God's promises to His people. She knew of His love and mercy and the hope of redemption.

Our speaker at the women's brunch spoke of this quiet a bit. She reminded us that as familiar as the Christmas story is, at the time, it was anything but expected. The appearance of angels was terrifying; the census, a chaotic challenge. The journey was long and tiring; the birth, messy, loud and stressful. But that is how God decided to send His son to Earth. The glory was not of wealth and royal halls, but sent from Heaven; the message, divine.

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