Born In A Stable - Reflections on Christmas
Photo by: Greyson-Joralemon on Unsplash.com
Christmas this year is much different. Due to health and finances, my husband and I have decided to enjoy one another and focus on the real reason for the Season. Gone is all the pressure to spend money I don’t have and plan dinners or get togethers. In its place I have found the most comforting silence and His presence is sweet. Deep inside, my spirit resonates and whispers that this is how it should be.
And that got me pondering so many things and God has been faithful to provide insight. So, grab a cup of whatever you like (hot chocolate is my favourite), then find a notebook or your journal and a pen. When you’re ready, continue reading.
The first thing that usually happens once December arrives is a plethora of posts from well meaning Christians warning the rest of us that December 25th is not Jesus’ real birthday and it was instead a pagan festival and no Christian should celebrate Christmas. Let me tell you how I have found peace in this maelstrom of negativity: yes, Jesus was not born in December, but he would have been about 6 months old, which is just about the right timing for the wise men to appear. The wise men began following the star when it first appeared in the sky. They did not arrive at the stable, “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11.
They came to the house where Mary and Joseph were staying in Bethlehem. It was long after Jesus’ birth. The gifts they brought the baby Jesus were gifts that Kings received: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Gold represents kingship on earth, frankincense was used in the incense burned in the temple offered to God and myrrh was a spice used in the embalming of the dead and represents death. In a microcosm these 3 gifts spoke of Jesus, God incarnate, and the fact he would lay down his life. It is for this reason we give gifts at Christmas as we remember our Lord and Saviour’s birth - to honour God, the Father for sending His only Son and Jesus for humbling himself and being born both Man and God. This is a holy time, a sacred season…one to be cherished and not to be rushed. Now, If you choose not to celebrate December 25th because it is not the date of Jesus’ actual birth, that is your decision and your right, but please refrain from telling me to do the same.
“Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility], who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]. After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11 Amplified Bible)
As clearly written in the verses above, Jesus’ arrival, was very humble. This is why the Jewish religious leaders of the day would not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. In their minds, the Messiah would arrive as a conquering King and overthrow the Roman government and establish his Kingdom on earth. Their interpretation of the scriptures was short-sighted and based on their own carnal desires. God the Father, had a much bigger victory in mind when He sent Jesus and Jesus knew his purpose was to be the final sacrificial lamb and re-establish the connection of man with God that had been severed by Adam and Eve in the Garden.
Now, back to Mary and Joseph! With no room in the Inn, Mary and Joseph were relegated to birthing their baby in a stable…with the horses and donkeys. When Jesus arrived on earth as a newborn baby, he was not wrapped in silk gowns or linen diapers, but in rough swaddling cloths and then he was put in a Manger. We tend to decorate our Mangers in our church productions, but let me be clear: a manger is a feeding trough for the animals. It became a makeshift cradle for our Lord. The first witnesses to his birth, outside of Mary and Joseph, were lowly shepherds and they came because a host of angels interrupted their nightly campfire.
Did you catch that?
Shepherds. Young boys or old men tending their flocks by night, were the first witnesses of the newborn babe’s arrival. They needed some convincing though, so a host of heavenly angels blowing a fanfare of trumpets, made a deafening announcement over the Bethlehem hills. Once the blood returned from their feet, I am certain every last shepherd did as the angels said and sought the babe out at the stable. You didn’t have to tell them twice that this was no ordinary night!
This Christmas ponder all that Jesus laid down to become that baby lying in a Manger. Imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph. They were on their own, no doctors or hospitals. No midwife. Was Mary frightened or did she know in her heart that all would be well since she was carrying the Son of God? Did Joseph fear for his wife as she laboured in the blankets he had laid down on the straw for her? Then the moment comes and the baby is born and they name him Jesus as the angel told them to do. Imagine their wonder staring into the infant face of the Messiah. Imagine the commotion outside and the shepherd’s arriving one by one and then all at once. Hear the sheep lowing and the horses and donkeys braying.
Now spend time in worship, for He alone is worthy.
Merry Christas from my house to yours.