Christmas Greetings and Blessings
When the world was a younger place, even so, humans were still much the same as they are today (after all, having been created by God, our very nature has been ordained, although corrupted), and people went about their lives--working, eating, sleeping, laughing, loving, crying, rejoicing, hurting. One man felt it was all meaningless, while many others didn't even try to figure it all out.
All the while the sun rose and coursed the sky, the moon waxed and waned, stars drew the minds of gazers, and gentle breezes refreshed weary travellers and hunched-over laborers. Time passed. Nations changed, lifestyles came and went, but people were the same.
One family grew, the children becoming adults, working, falling in love, having their children. They were close, even through many generations, 52nd cousins ten times removed, etc. Of course there was friction from time to time, family crises and such, even unspeakable things within immediate families; after all they were still human. However, most of the time they kept the bonds close, even when some lived at a distance from others.
In one branch, an old woman was childless. She was a woman of dignity, respected in the family, and beyond. The townspeople grew up considering her their second mother, but she always wanted one of her own. But the Lord sealed her womb, and she praised Him in the temple, and in her heart. Zack, her husband, also longed for a son, and like his wife, he was a pillar in the community. How many of the young men had bounced on his knee when they were babies? How many of the young girls had made wreaths of flowers for his hair, and he wore them as crowns bestowed by the king. But with every bounce, every wreath, he mouthed the name of his son, whispered the name of his daughter, but they didn't answer back, for no one was there.
As strange as it may sound however, their grief changed and became unspeakable joy with the arrival of a son. Yeah, it didn't make any sense, but God was faithful, and all they knew to do was to raise their hands to heaven with joy. And the town, and the family, praised God with them. Why should they get the blessing, they sometimes wondered. After all, there were other barren couples and most of them NEVER had children. Zack would just shrug his shoulders, thank God and put his arm around his wife as they watched their little miracle grow.
The old woman had a cousin, who was one sixth her age, but a dear child, and one whom many a young man thought would make a good wife. This family also, was known in their community, above reproach, and generous with all the little they had. The girl skipped with her friends, talked and laughed and pointed at the boys in the village, just like the rest of them. She got water from the well, helped her mom do the work around the house, and dreamed of what it would be like to have been one of the saints of old, but would laugh to herself with the silliness of the thought.
One day her mother noticed some swelling in the girl's stomach. She was pregnant. She cried as she told her father. And fear and shame came down on the family, overshadowing the joy of the cousins, and the joy of the upcoming new life. She tried to explain that she hadn't, really. She said it was a miracle, not a curse. But somehow, at first, that only took the edge off of the stares and the scandalous looks surreptitiously eased her way. It got better over time, and she could hold up her head. Her fiancé supported her, though at great cost to his reputation as well.
Then a few days before she was due, as they were packing for a trip, she looked up at the sky. A bright star was shining that hadn't been there before. She called her (now) husband and he came to her and looked. It was a strange light, but comforting, even enticing. She began to look forward to the trip, although she was very ill. She looked at her stomach, and said, "Who ARE you, that all of this has happened to me? Who am I, that you should be coming from me?"
How could all of her life expectations be so trashed so quickly, and yet have such peace and awe carrying her along on a tide of things greater than herself, like she was an unwitting stowaway on a ship bound for waters where the map only said, "Here there be dragons."
"Who ARE you?" she asked again. "Who are you?"
So she found herself in a stable with her husband, two horses, three oxen and four sheep. She wrapped herself in hay to keep the chill of the night away, as the lantern flickered. She could see the light from the star, because the moon was new, and the star was SO bright.
In her arms was the newest addition to the family, but one like his cousin-- not come about in the normal course of things, but caused by the very hand of God rippling through their lives like a fish flashing past in a stream, so sudden and unexpected, yet beautiful, mysterious, exciting. Beyond understanding, but saying, "Come, and behold. I AM the Lord, the God of all flesh. I AM come. Come to me. I will show you all this and more. Come; taste and see. I want you to understand, that is why I AM here."
"Today, I have made your family My family. And because of you, all may join My family. I will be their God and they will be My people, My children, as I AM yours."
"What do you mean?" said the girl.
"Can you understand a baby? Then how can you understand me? Yet I AM come, a baby. I AM the Lord. I have made Myself helpless, young Mary. Protect and nurture Me. I AM the Most High. Change My swaddling cloths. I AM the Holy One of Israel. Feed Me, Mary. I AM the Lion Of Judah. Comfort Me when I scrape My knee. I AM the Lord of Hosts. I AM your Son. I AM."
"You asked, 'Who ARE you?' You are right. I AM, Mary, my mother, I AM."
The manger and the star are now stuff of legend, but the reality of the human lives of that family lives on in each of our families, because the reality of our lives is the same as theirs, for we are created by the same I AM, and He IS to this day. When we feel helpless, He IS there, for He was helpless. The baby became a man, and the man became a Saviour, and the Saviour calls us family, and the family is close, even though we sometimes live far away. But we can celebrate together in spite of the distance, celebrate the helpless birth of the I AM.
Merry Christmas, family. Merry Christmas.