Christmas is just around the corner, and after sending a few more packages and wrapping the rest of my gifts, I'm happy to say I *finally* feel ready! So I'm hoping to spend the next few days focused more on anticipating the birth of Jesus and less on decorations, baking, presents, etc. And I thought you could join me through this post, as I share my Top 3 Moments from the Christmas Story (not to be confused with A Christmas Story, which is a cute movie but definitely not the focus of this post!).
3. The Angels Appear to the Shepherds (Luke 2: 8-15)
This part of the Bible narrative gives me chills every time. Can you imagine? Shepherds caring for their sheep on the outskirts of town suddenly are paid a visit by an angel. And not just one angel, but "a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel" (NIV). I can't begin to envision what that might've looked like, but it must've been an incredible sight. What strikes me the most about this passage is the angel and heavenly host chose to appear to lowly shepherds. They could've picked the wealthiest or most influential people in Bethlehem, but instead shared their message with men who spent their days caring for animals. A powerful reminder that God truly views us all equally as His children and pays no heed to our social status.
2. Jesus is placed in a Manger (Luke 2: 6-7)
Our modern-day nativity scenes paint such a cozy picture of this manger, don't they? Jesus snuggled up in a cradle of hay with his parents at his side (Mary looks so well recovered from the delivery!) and animals peacefully standing by. But in reality, what a place to give birth! When my own children were born, I could hardly fathom the thought of a birth in my home full of modern conveniences instead of a fully-equipped hospital, let alone a cold, dirty place where livestock are kept. Yet that's where God chose for His Son to be born. He didn't direct Mary and Joseph to insist to the innkeepers that they were about to give birth to the Son of God and they'd better get a room. He didn't send an angel to make an announcement for them. He made His Son meek and accessible to all by giving him the most humble birthplace imaginable. And despite the sounds and smells of the surrounding animals, I'm sure there was something idyllic about the simplicity of their first night together as a family.
1. Mary Says "Yes" (Luke 1: 26-38)
Speaking of angel appearances, Gabriel's discussion with Mary is the most awe-inspiring aspect of the Christmas story in my opinion. But not because of the angel, but because of Mary. An angel tells her she will give birth to a son, and Mary has only one question before she responds with "I am the Lord's servant...May your word to me be fulfilled" (NIV). Her answer shows such humility and unwavering trust in God. She didn't argue about the plans she had for her life that were being turned upside-down or even ask if this can wait until after she's married. She simply says yes. I have a lot to learn from that willingness to dedicate her life to God in the midst of my ambitions for my family and my own career.
What are some of your favorite aspects of the Christmas story? Do you have a special way to experience the nativity every year at Christmas? I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a great start to the New Year!
See you in 2019!