Yesterday the mall was crowded with Christmas shoppers: moms with strollers; teenage girls dressed in the latest fashion; couples walking hand in hand; people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I tried to imagine what God must think of all the commotion for the Birthday of His Son. Blinking lights adorned the trees and images of elves and Santa lined the long corridors leading from store to store. Giant oversized wreaths hung on every pole and snowflakes hovered above my head, swaying gently as I took it all in.
What happened in Bethlehem the night of Christ’s birth was quite different. A young, ordinary girl from an ordinary family housed the Savior of the world in her body. A humble carpenter, her husband, would be the King of all king’s earthly father. It doesn’t seem to fit the purpose of His birth, does it? Bethlehem, unaware of the ordinary girl, her carpenter husband, and infant son, slept while the Lord of life; the Lord of all came into the world. Born in a stable, with animals on a bed of straw, He came to be with us; to relate to us; to save us from death’s grip.
Angels announced the glorious moment to shepherds, men who lived isolated from society with sheep in fields. Men who wreaked of animal smells witnessed the Heavenly host singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” Luke 2:14.
How differently we celebrate the birth today in comparison to the night that changed the world forever.
As I hitched a ride on an extremely tall escalator, my bird’s eye view scanned the wonder of all the decorations. How glorious it all looked from above. Reaching the top, I noticed an older man in a wheel chair, slumped over sleeping. His legs were covered with a worn but comfortable looking quilt. One of his slippers peaked out from under the bottom of the blanket, and a lady dressed in a snowman Christmas sweater sat beside him, chatting about all the splendor of the day. At first I thought she was on the cell phone, but as I observed further, I realized she was talking to him. Occasionally, she grabbed his hand as she described all that was around him. She wiped the droll from his mouth with a handkerchief she took from her bag. He shifted slightly and tilted his head back and she gently kissed his forehead.
As I approached her, her steel blue eyes caught mine. I took the chair next to her and learned her husband had a degenerative disease that left him incapable of moving, even speaking, but his cognitive brain was fully functioning. Talking with her almost seemed rude because I knew he could understand fully. She described how much he loved Christmas but the nerves in his eyes no longer aloud him to see. I gave her a break and started to detail all that was around us. Her lips curled up in a thankful smile. I told him of the decorations, the people walking by, children laughing, some protesting from too much stimulation, packages piled high in the arms of people, and the different faces that I saw. I described a father with a young boy on his shoulders eating a gooey cinnamon roll. When I glanced over to look at him, I realized tears flowed down his face. His wife quickly explained their only son died many years ago in Vietnam, at Christmas; and yet, it was the couple’s favorite time of year.
I spent a great deal of time with this couple. Their lives were not ideal; but, even in his agony or her daily sacrificial care, they found joy in the season. They found hope in the lights. They found faith in the meaning.
I challenge you to do the same. For some of you, this time of year brings wonderful memories; for others, it is a struggle to get through each day. God came in human form, not in the grandeur of what He deserved; but humbly, so that we might all find purpose and meaning in the day of His birth.