We spent the weekend doing all things Christmas. We decorated the tree. Okay. Really we decorated two trees. We listened to hours of Christmas songs. The girls had hot chocolate and watched a Christmas movie. We wrapped presents and practiced our piano recital duet. We made Christmas crafts. We went to church and then to our eldest's school choir performance. Goodness. We packed an entire month's activities into two Christmas filled days. Honestly, I spent most of the weekend with a joy filled heart and a lump in my throat. Memories of last year's painful Christmas and the loss of my beloved mother-in-law kept threatening to spill over into the fun.
Ever notice that Christmas is like an amplifier? Everyone works hard to have a perfect time, but sometimes in the midst of joy, sorrow can feel sharper.
The first Christmas was no different. I can’t imagine that spending the night in a barn watching his fiance’ give birth was exactly what Joseph had in mind for the start to his family. Mary was clearly in physical pain due to childbirth but I imagine she was also relieving some difficult conversations with friends and family about her baby. And Jesus? The Baby? I'm sure was feeling His first moments away from the glory of heaven in a fragile and helpless position. Painful. Lonely.
There were angels and choirs and visitors and gifts and promises and hope.
Jesus, fully God and fully man, also knew even at that time what the end of the story was about. Redemption, peace, great joy.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7
Our society doesn’t know how to deal with sadness very well. Sometimes I think the best thing to do is accept it, have a good cry and get back to the party. John Piper, in his book Taste and See talks about how to deal with times of commingle joy and sadness in a section called “The simultaneous sound of laughter and weeping”.
I loved this line;
My prayer for myself and all of you is that our weeping might be deep but not prolonged. And while it lasts let us weep with those who weep. And when joy comes in the morning let us rejoice with those who rejoice.
That first Christmas had to be overwhelming. I think Mary had the right approach to the balance of grief and amazement.
The Bible says in Luke 2:19 that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”.
The amazing truth is the Joy of Christmas is all about good news in the midst of sorrow. If there was no sorrow or sin or death there would have been no need for a saviour. No baby.
So this Christmas let me invite you regardless of your situation to ponder. Slow down. Take a moment. Sit in awe at the baby who came so we would not be alone in our sorrow and loss and consequences. He came so we all may have abundunt and joy-filled life.
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. Luke 2:10-11
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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