Both my husband Gary and I have computers that, when resting, display a continuous mosaic of our own pictures. There are copious photos of school, family, trips, pets, vacations, holidays and gardens. There are thousands to choose from and one never knows what is coming next. Our grandkids love it and will sit and watch the “show” where they are featured on a regular basis. These mosaics are a little addicting, certainly distracting, but a tremendous blessing as well. It is hard to be grumpy or complain when one is faced with proof of God’s goodness and blessing over and over and over again! They make me feel good, blessed and that all is well.
Then, I turn on the news and am dismayed by pain, loss, sorrow and corruption. At church prayer requests for the sick and suffering are frequent. Yesterday, HCA’s faculty and staff attended an ALICE training session given by the police so we will know exactly what to do in the unlikely event of an active shooter. It seems like the culture, weather, politics, families, and illnesses are all going crazy.
Into just such a world
God sent His Son. A sweet, new, helpless baby was born to Mary and Joseph who had been harassed, accused of lying and sent on a long, uncomfortable journey when Mary was due to give birth. They couldn’t find lodgings and were no doubt exhausted, dirty and desperate. But there He was, lying on a bed of hay, perfect and beautiful amidst animal sounds and smells. Then shepherds appeared, awestruck and jubilant, reporting that angels had appeared right there on the hillside, and told them that a Savior had been born and where to find him. They visited the baby and then left to share to good news with everyone they encountered. The people of Bethlehem were amazed!
Matthew then reports in chapter two verse 19,
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
I am sure everyone (especially mothers) can relate! The joy, wonder and physical exertion of giving birth to a baby is overwhelming. But Mary’s baby was
THE ONE the world had long awaited. Mary had been warned by and angel, affirmed by Elizabeth and scorned by her home town. She had traveled 60 miles over very rough and hilly terrain to find no clean place for giving birth. Her emotions must have been swirling, jumbled and confused. No wonder she pondered them in her heart. How could she even speak?
And yet, she knew that this baby was God’s own Son, God in flesh, come to earth. What an honor, responsibility and privilege it was to give birth to the Savior of the world. How truly extraordinary! She must have felt like she was in the vortex of a tornado of good and evil, blessing and hardship, trust and fear, perfect and dirty, pain and joy.
I think we’ve all felt like that to some degree. Joy and pain are always happening at the same time to those we know and love, sometimes to the very same people. The Bible says to
weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. (Romans 12:15) Life can be very difficult and wonderful! When Jesus was still very young Joseph was warned in a dream to take his little family to Egypt because Herod was trying to find and kill him. Politics, threats, danger and escape plans are nothing new. They were part of Jesus’ life from the beginning and they are a part of ours as well.
That is why He came!
Life was never supposed to be like this. It was designed by God to be lived with Him, in peace and love, trusting Him to meet all our needs while delighting in His presence and creation. We have been gifted to do specialized work for Him that is gratifying and builds up the community. What happened?
We decided we needed to be in control and took matters into our own hands (Okay, Adam and Eve were first but the rest of us have gladly followed!) Greed, control, power and self-interest took precedence over God’s will and the result is the schizophrenic world in which we live.
Glimpses of His goodness are everywhere in what He has made, in His loving voice in our hearts, and in acts of selflessness. But corruption and sin cast a dark net over it all.
GOOD NEWS! Jesus came to save us from ourselves and our corrupt world. He knows the difficulties of living here because HE DID and DOES in our souls when we accept His loving sacrifice for us. He was perfect, we are not. We are guilty, He was not. We were condemned, He paid the ransom for our lives by dying in our places.
This is the best news the world has ever had.
We are rescued, freed, and given the ability to let Him take the lead in this life, navigating just the right paths at the right time, holding us in hard times and in the end delivering us home to heaven where life is FINALLY as it was meant to be all along, only better!
Come, let us adore Him right in the midst of this real world this year.
May you and your family enter into the Truth, reality and love of the baby/Savior/King this Christmas! God bless you all.
Gratefully in Him,
Susan Hayward, Principal