December 8, 2008
Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“When [the shepherds] had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:17-18 (NIV)
I wonder what my younger Granddaughter, Ellie Kate, would have seen and said were she there on that morning so long ago-at the manger, in the stable, in the little town of Bethlehem-when the Christ Child was born? From our last four years of personal experience with her and, in particular, this past weekend-I believe I know!
She was not only a huge help to both her Mimi and me-as box after box of Christmas decorations emerged from their storage sanctuary upstairs to grace our home during this special season-she was also an inspiration.
As each box was opened to reveal its contents of ornaments and decorations waiting to be hung and displayed, and as Ellie Kate viewed every lighted tree on her initial inspection tour of our home upon her arrival a few days ago-“Oh! Gran! It’s so beautiful!”-excitedly jumped from her lips-over and over and over.
And then the forty-year-old crèche was discovered, still protected within its age-worn and taped-together original cardboard box. Wise-men, a camel, a cow and donkey, some sheep, lambs and their shepherd, angels, and Mary and Joseph all emerged patiently waiting to be arranged in the usual spot at the base of a tree in the front hall of the house.
But as all these faded figurines slowly emerged, you could tell from Ellie Kate’s expectant glances that she was anticipating something else. She knew that something more and something very special was still to surface from the protective tissue paper wrappings. And then it appeared-the tiny figure of the Baby Jesus-with His waist wrapped in a blue cloth, lying on a white blanket in a crude rough-looking cradle.
“Oh! Gran! The Baby Jesus!” Her words were as reverent as her hands as she held him close embracing Him with her heart in a magical moment for her Mimi and me…and for our dear four-year-old Granddaughter. With her eyes fixed on the figure of the Baby Jesus, it was as if everything was right with the world.
A world where today I know there are many of you struggling to make ends meet. Another where a marriage relationship has hit a wall and as hard as you both look, no door to the next day is readily in sight. Where one of you has just returned from the doctor with news that the days you knew were numbered-have now been assigned a number. And another of you is driving home from that long-held job for the last time.
A world today in too many places that seems a lot like what the world must have been like over two-thousand years ago when the Christ Child was born-cold and dank, dark and depressing, lonely and formidable-in a word-hopeless. A world as uninviting as that world must have been when the only welcome for the Son of God was to a dirty, wet-hay-filled and dung-covered manger in an animal-filled stable behind a warm, lighted and people-filled inn.
I wonder what we would have seen and felt were we there on that day so long ago? The filth, cold and squalor all around, aching and cold feet from years of making our way through one valley after another, or climbing mountain after mountain. Or would we have seen the amazing moment of the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem right in front of us? A birth from which we would mark our calendars for generations to come-all the way to eternity.
I wonder what we would have said if we were there on that day so long ago? “I can’t believe how selfish that innkeeper is! This world is too unfair, I can’t go another step further! I’m too tired to go on! I don’t have the strength to try and make this work again! I’m too embarrassed to face any of my family and friends!” Or would we have seen the Light shining through the darkness between the strands of straw in that crudely made little cradle-shining a ray of light on the pathway of hope to a brighter day!
From our four years of personal experience with our littlest of Granddaughters (and I would add also, our nine years with our elder Granddaughter Hannah) I know what Ellie Kate’s response to the moment would have been had she been there that day…
“Oh! Gran! It’s so beautiful!”
“Oh! Gran! He’s so beautiful!”
And it is. And He is.
In a world of ups and downs and usually more downs than ups-everything really is right with the world-through the Babe of Bethlehem.
A simple birth. A majestic moment. A beautiful Baby. An Eternal promise.
For you and for me-forever.
In His Name-Scott