These days I don’t worry so much about undone Christmas details. A couple years ago one of our four sons spent Christmas in a tent north of Baghdad. During Christmas dinner we—and many other families—were painfully aware of the empty chair at the table. So every time a Christmas detail nags at me, I recall that past yuletide season and the little annoyances disappear.
Many brave men and women are still isolated from their families this Christmas—the empty chairs are now their uneasy reminders. So please keep our defenders and their families in your prayers. Better yet, given the opportunity, invite them to share Christmas dinner with you.
The story of the nativity is an amazing fact of history and a good reminder for us all. Imagine yourself in Joseph’s sandals. Your fiancée is pregnant and you’re not the father. Consider the whispers and ribbing you’d endure in the carpenter’s shop. Pregnancy out of wedlock was still a scandal then.
As if that weren’t bad enough, close to the baby’s delivery you and Mary have to make the grueling trip to Bethlehem. When you finally arrive, you find yourself in a smelly, manure-strewn barn. Dust from the dirt floor and straw is so thick you choke. Your “room” reeks of animals, not to mention the noise they make. And then, just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, Mary says, “Joseph, the baby’s coming!” Talk about a new, reluctant father.
And then it happens. Our savior arrives—the gift of life. Only this gift fills his diaper, spits up on Joseph’s only cloak and cries in the middle of the cold Bethlehem night.
Imagine if Planned Parenthood would’ve had an abortion mill in Nazareth. Mary would have been a prime target. They certainly would have pressured, coerced and perhaps even forced this young, naive mother to have an abortion. Now imagine if you can a world without Jesus Christ. You, I and everyone else would be destined for hell because Jesus wouldn’t have been here to bleed, die and rise again for our sins.
It shouldn’t be lost on us that in spite of Mary and Joseph being the parents of God’s only son—the savior of mankind—this young couple didn’t have it easy. Instead of God rolling out the red carpet, the Prince of Peace had to settle for a feed trough and straw for his bed. Mary and Joseph’s hardships serve as a vivid reminder that as God’s children we don’t always have it easy either. But because Mary and Joseph followed God’s will, countless generations benefit from the presence of this child’s life in the world.
Let’s put that in the context of modern life—a young couple facing an unexpected pregnancy. If they follow God’s will, abortion will be averted and countless generations will benefit, albeit in a much smaller way, from their child’s presence in the world.
One of my favorite Christmas carols asks the question, “Do you hear what I hear?” It refers to angelic voices announcing the birth of Christ, but that question also applies to us. Instead of angels, we hear the sound of babies saved from abortion—the sound of babies and parents enjoying a first Christmas. Maybe it’s a family who welcomed a new child by adoption, thanks to the life-choice of a loving birth mother. Or perhaps a house is buzzing with the sound of foster children who’ve found stability, love and provision under someone’s roof. Life is truly reason to celebrate.
Remember this: Jesus isn’t the reason for the season. You are. If you were the only person on the face of this planet, Jesus still would’ve come down to earth. This puts Christmas on a whole other level, doesn’t it?
So enjoy those cherished traditions passed down from generation to generation. Exchange gifts; feast with family and friends. But above all, remember that you are the center of God’s Christmas celebration.
Have a very Merry Christmas!