The Best Gift

This time of year can be so hectic. We often tell ourselves at the beginning of the Christmas season, that this year we will slow down and take the time to enjoy it. At least I know I do.  Maybe you do too.   I say I will take time to reflect on what Christmas really means.  Then, oftentimes my best intentions get lost in the busyness of the season, and before you know it Christmas is over.  

I don’t know what happens to the time and how it all rushes past so quickly.  Each year it seems to go faster and faster.   I love to listen to  the lyrics of the song “I Need A Silent Night” by Amy Grant.  It really speaks to all the busyness and craziness that goes on.  It seems like each year gets a little more over the top.  Decorating, shopping, expectations etc.  If we’re not aware, we can start to feel like we need to do more, buy more, and be more, or it simply won’t be good enough.  

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to do all those things we do for Christmas.  I love presents as much as the next person.  I love to give presents, and I like to get presents too.  What’s not to like?  But how did that become the main focus of the season? And what have we done with Jesus?

Lets hit the rewind button and go back a couple thousand years to talk about a truly, crazy busy time.  Mary and Joseph were betrothed, and Mary was pregnant with Jesus.  The Bible doesn’t really tell us what they were doing at this time in their lives. I’m assuming like couples today that are expecting, they prepare things for the new baby.  Then boom! Out of the blue an order comes  from Caesar Augustus that he wants a census. Mary and Joseph are required to go to Bethlehem because Joseph is of the house of David.  

Imagine their thoughts.  From what I have read it was probably anywhere from 70 to 90 miles.  With Mary pregnant.  On the back of a donkey.  If you have ever been pregnant you know how uncomfortable it can be just to sit anywhere at the end of your pregnancy. Never mind days on the back of a donkey, being bounced up and down like a sack of flour. 

It’s really not something you would choose to do.  I wonder what Joseph’s thoughts were about taking his highly pregnant betrothed on a journey such as this.  Did they bring baby things in case the baby was born while they were gone?  Diapers?  Baby clothes?  We don’t know.  We do know there were no hospitals or Urgent Care’s along the way where she could have stopped to give birth.  

Then they finally reach their destination, only to find there are no rooms to be had. No way to check online for local hotels with vacancies either. Like most of us, I was always taught that Jesus was born in a stable.  I have also heard it was a cave or a barn. Another thought I read recently, is that it was likely a downstairs room of a private house, where animals were often brought in at night.  We just don’t know for sure.  We do know it wasn’t a Hilton. Or a birthing room, where you can take a hot shower after delivering. There was likely not a lot of privacy and surely no room service. No ice chips to suck on, or nurses tending to your needs.   That must have been a crazy time.  

In comparison, it puts all our running around in a different perspective.  I imagine that if you were to research when gift giving started as a celebration of Christmas,  gifts were likely given to represent the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus.  He did not receive an Xbox or a stuffed animal, or in fact any kind of toy or baby item.  Gold, frankincense and myrrh.  There’s another whole story involved in theories on why those particular gifts.  Check it out for yourself.  

So how did it turn into the craziness that we have today?  With Black Friday, stores being open 24 hours, people getting run over in the rush to be first in line to get the deals.  Grown ups fighting for toys so their child will get the latest gadget.  Craziness.

Meanwhile, in towns and cities and schools across the nation there are those who try and erase all mention of Jesus, and the whole reason we celebrate Christmas to begin with.   Christ-mas.  He was born as a gift to us.  The best gift we could ever hope to receive.  Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” 

Of all the presents that will be exchanged this year, not one of them will last forever.  By next year we probably won’t remember most of them.  But the gift of Jesus being born is still being talked about more than 2,000 years after the fact.  And it will be talked about through all of eternity.  

In these next couple of weeks as we celebrate, may we make time to slow down, and remember what we are really celebrating.  Maybe take time to read in Luke 2 the story of Jesus’s birth.  Give thanks to God for the gift of Jesus and for all the other blessings in our lives.  Let go of some things that you think you “have” to do that stress you out. Enjoy the company of friends and loved ones.  Celebrate the season before it’s gone.

I pray you all Have a a blessed and Merry Christ-mas!

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