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Joy to the World, Indeed!

As Christmas morning would draw near, my grandmother used to tell me about the story of my dad’s birthday.  She would begin with, “Your precious father, my son, was born on December 14, 1939. In those days, one would have to stay at the hospital for 10 days or so having giving birth.” Her story continued by sharing with me that she arrived home with her fourth-born son on Christmas Eve, and he awoke for the first time with his new family on Christmas morning. She recalled and shared her memory of waking early in the morning holding her sweet baby boy.  

As I recall hearing this story as told to me by my grandmother, I can only imagine what Mary was experiencing on the day Jesus was born. Peace? Anxiety? Comfort? Maybe Mary felt affirmed because the words of the Angel Gabriel had come to being? What about Joseph?  What do we suppose Joseph was feeling that morning?  Fear? Anxiety? Peace?  Our perspective of Jesus’ birth story can differ vastly when we allow ourselves to experience it from a new perspective.  

On this Christmas Day, as you read the story of “The Birth of Jesus,” consider your perspective. 

Luke 2:1-20 (NIV)  

The Birth of Jesus 

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
     and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ 

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” 

By far, this is the greatest story ever told. Although I have many stories I can recall as told by my grandmother, none are as important as the story we read of our Savior’s birth. How we experience Christmas Day reveals much about what we consider to be important and is influenced by our perspective. Has the year 2020 given you a new perspective regarding your priorities? Have the past 10 months changed how you have and continue to celebrate the birth of the Christ child? I believe we are called to look at today, and every day, through the eyes of God. When we do, our hearts are purer, which influence our words to be more kind and our actions to be more selfless. When we view Christmas Day with God’s perspective, we see the revelation of Emmanuel: God with us forever more.   

This Christmas Day, I pray that God awakens you with a new perspective.  I pray that you know you are loved because God sent his Son to save the world, born in a lowly manger, wrapped in scraps of cloth, and Savior to all. 

Merry Christmas! 

Much love, Betsy 

Posted by Betsy Butler
in Church

Take Hold of this Moment

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 
The very first Christmas was unnoticed by most. Bethlehem was jammed with guests who had rolled into town to pay their taxes. Who would pay any attention to a young couple going slowly and carefully along the road? More than likely everyone dashed past in order to meet the demands on their own list. Whatever that year’s headlines were filled their concerns and conversations. Life was simply happening all around Mary and Joseph. People walked right by unaware that the Messiah was coming that night. 
It’s Christmas Eve. Today. How can we catch a glimpse of the heavenly promise coming tonight? I don’t want to miss it! This year’s events have consumed our thoughts and for many it’s a strange and painful time where gathering carries risk and staying apart is best. 2020 has challenged us on every front. So few expectations met and so many adaptations made that not one of us feels the same. We are different. I wonder how different we actually are. Perhaps we will know the answer tonight. Has the promise of Jesus coming informed our words and guided our actions? Are we more loving? Have we become more thoughtful? Hopeful? Faithful? There is a priceless, never to be experienced again moment coming. This is a new Christmas. Could something new dawn in our hearts as we worship Jesus? God is with us. Let that amazing truth sink in. He is watching us hoping we will make the most of our chances to love. Let go of Christmas past, take hold of this moment, and come let us adore him! The hopes and fears of all the years are met in him tonight.

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