Tuesday, November 29, 2011

As Christmas approaches...


The end of November has arrived and the newness of the holiday season holds heavy around us, almost like rain ready to fall as soon as December first strikes midnight. The advent calenders will begin their daily surprises and we'll continue to read our nightly bible verses as the glow of the advent wreath lights our family table. The radio spouts out praises and glories to God in the highest, and our house dons its gorgeous display of colorful stars in the night like beacons for a trio of men searching for something in the night.
But, as a mother, I often think back to Mary and Joseph and the trip they would be making at this time many many years ago. She must have been awfully scared and nervous. Here she was, almost due with this child who was the son of God, can you imagine the pressure? Everyone must have been cold to her, becoming pregnant when she did, under the circumstances she did. She probably had no support from anyone, so leaving that dark night may have even been welcome. But she wasn't totally alone. She had sweet Joseph, who stuck by her side, with his faith that was so strong. He led this donkey many miles and many nights on foot, hungry and cold, worried about the lives of the precious cargo it carried.
The weight on the shoulders of this husband and soon to be father would be more than I could bear.
Yet he pushed on, hungry and exhausted.
When baby Jesus was born, did Mary look in his eyes and wonder how long she had him until he would be called home? Did Joseph see himself in the eyes of the newborn king?
As he grew, did they worry about him breaking his arm while playing with the other kids? Did they discipline this young king? Did they raise their fists at the sky on days when terrible-twos Jesus refused a nap and ask "why me?!"? I suppose if you were chosen by God to raise this child, you'd feel a little better, but it must have been harder than any other task. Watching her son being whipped and beaten, nailed to a cross, crying and bleeding, while she was left helpless to watch. Had he wanted to cry out to her? Ask her for help? Ask her why she brought him into this world and kept him safe just to endure this treatment?
I couldn't do it.
When I look into the eyes of my little boy, I can't even imagine.

I'm sure as he hung there, being poked and taunted, she thought of all the times he scraped his knees and she cried after she kissed them better, because you hurt more just seeing that little face tear stained. The times he smiled and laughed as Joseph tossed him in the air, and the times he hugged her knees, because that's all he could reach as she prepared dinner for the family.

When Jesus asked why God had forsaken him, I'm sure Mary had been shouting the same thing for years as she watched the hardships that her son faced.

Anyway, so as December kicks Christmas into high gear, I don't worry about the city taking "Christmas" out of this and that and calling it "Holiday", or about the commercialization of Santa. Calling something a "Holiday Parade" or a "Holiday Card", or even "Xmas" isn't going to remove the reason we celebrate Christmas, and it's not going to make me or my family forget Jesus. So call it what you will, we'll still sing Happy Birthday on Christmas morning.

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