Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas and the Christ Child

Take your imagination back about 2000 years ago to a small village called Bethlehem. There are two weary travelers, in love and expecting a very special firstborn. The road has been rocky, and shelter has been scarce. Their food supply has dwindled and their sad faces are evident at every innkeepers' doorway when each refuses to give them a room.

Finally, one innkeeper is beseeched for the sake of Mary's condition to give them a place in the straw beside the stock in the man's small stable carved out of the stone hills around Bethlehem. Joseph looks at Mary with as much encouragement as he can muster at this paultry offer of shelter. She smiles back and nods as if to say, "It's OK, Joseph. It's not your fault the inns are full."

They enter this manure and straw shelter and make a space amongst the beasts. Joseph helps Mary gently off the donkey. The animal is too tired to eat the straw and lays down to sleep after taking in some water from the trough. Mary's labor pains are coming more frequently now.

Joseph has helped to birth lambs and goats, but never a baby. He prays to the Father the delivery of His Son will go well. Mary's birthing cries are heard on high in the heavens and the angels begin their journey down to the stable and to the shepherds. These lonely and wayfaring men on earth are gazing into the night skies around Bethlehem at a remarkable star God has moved into their small corner of the world. The flocks of their beloved sheep are asleep close by.

Mary makes her last and final push to give birh. Joseph brings out the baby, clears his mouth of mucous with his finger, and holds him by his feet to spank his first breaths of this world's air into his nostrils and mouth. He cuts the umbilical cord and puts this small and holy being up to Mary's waiting breast. There are tears of joy for both these young lovers as Jesus nurses. Joseph plumps up the straw and lies down beside Mary to encircle her and the child with his arm. He nods off to sleep.

And so, "unto us a child is born and unto us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end...The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:6-7) 

Isaiah's words are given peering hundreds of years into the future for this momentous birth; and we stand amazed in the presence of the Holy Spirit, gazing back thousands of years to the grandeur of God's design. The Everlasting Father's desire for man to be justified by faith in the baby who became a man on mission to fulfill God's prophetic words has just begun. The Messiah has come, and our spiritual heartbeats are enlivened by this miracle!

Sleep in heavenly peace, little child of God. Sleep in heavenly peace.