I don’t know . . . what do you think?
There was real scandal about his conception. Dark shadows loomed over Mary and Joseph’s reputations. She fled to her cousin Elizabeth’s for understanding. Joseph and Mary both took off for Bethlehem, perhaps to escape the wagging tongues of Nazareth. Not a single vacancy could they find there. A corner of a barn had to do as the delivery room.
Mary had no experience in “birthing babies!” Was Joseph the “midwife?” What did it smell like in that unlikely delivery room? Was it reasonably clean? Was Mary’s labor long and difficult, as it often is with first babies?
I do think nature put on its Sunday best for Jesus’ birthday. I see the heavens spangled with a ba-jillion stars, dimmed somewhat by that signal star that stole the sky so the wise men would know where to look for Jesus. Unshaven shepherds, wide-eyed and inquisitive, showed up at what MUST have been an inopportune time—from the young couple’s perspective. They brought no gifts for the birthday party. Only loud, uneducated praise that probably set Baby Jesus to crying.
It was a long night. The Magi would not show up for a year or more. However, their gifts—opulent and gaudy—made it possible, once liquidated, for Joseph to slip out of town and avoid the royal purge of Herod.
I doubt that Jewish families celebrated birthdays then as we do today. Perhaps Jesus’ one big birthday that we have twisted into a spasm of indulgent giving, was lost on him. And, he won’t get many gifts this year either. The whole commercial world is grateful for Christmas binge giving without so much as a fare-you-well to the one whose birthday it really is. A lot of businesses got well on Black Friday last month. Do they even know why? Do you?
So, we move through the genuflection that is the “Christmas season,” hoping that the recession will recede, and we can get back to the real business of America which is business!
Unless Jesus is recognized as Lord as well as Savior, we really don’t stand a chance of survival. His law of love, his rule of righteousness, his patient endurance of our pagan stupidity—these are the golden parachutes that can save us from our fiery, spiraling, personal and national 747s?
We praise him as Savior and Lord. But, is he really LORD? Does he call the shots in your life? Should he? I want to think about these questions with you on Sunday morning, our third week of Advent.