Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.”

Luke 2: 1-5 (NKJV)

The tradition continues in our home.

But with just a slight variation this year.

Every year of our marriage of forty-five years, we have gone out to secure a real Christmas tree, even during the onset in popularity, convenience and beauty of the artificial trees of every shape and size. And ever since they were old enough to go with us, our Granddaughters have assisted in the selection process.

This year the usual tree lot we have been faithful to frequent for years had fewer trees from which to select. Still all beautiful Frazer Firs, but by the time we got there only a handful of smaller ones, about six to seven feet, remained from which to choose. Our family room is usually graced with one about ten feet tall and bigger around, so as to be able to accommodate the many lights Lynda and the little girls enjoy as well as all the ornaments we have collected through the years.

But there we were, and as I was about to suggest we look elsewhere for our usual size tree, Lynda, Hannah and Ellie Kate in unison proclaimed—“Here’s the one, Gran!” As I turned and walked toward where they were all beaming, I noticed it seemed to be about six feet tall. It was tiny and probably a bit lonely as one of the last trees on the lot. But it was cute, especially with the three girls smiling all around where it stood. As I reached them and the tree, our two Granddaughters exclaimed “It is a baby one, Gran, like the Baby Jesus we will be celebrating.”

It is now standing proudly and feeling love in our family room waiting for the lights and then the decorations.

The scripture above points out that Joseph and Mary were heading back to Bethlehem, their city, to be registered. And it just so happens that that’s where it happened. Where God’s plan to save the world was born—through the birth of a tiny baby in a dank, dark stable. Mary and Joseph were heading back to be registered, and the Virgin birth took place. The point in time from which we set our calendars and mark our days.

Where are you heading as we begin this most exciting of seasons? A season always filled with anticipation and joy—at least that’s what I see coming out of the hearts, eyes, minds and words of those two little girls of ours who selected the smallest of Christmas trees yesterday—in honor of the Baby Jesus.

Where are you heading? What are you running after? What do you love the most? All of us are running after something. Too often we find we’re running after stuff, and money, things, trophies and awards. Too often we find we’re about our images, our reputation and recognition. Trust me, when you get there you may not feel as satisfied or fulfilled as you had hoped you would. But whatever it is, we’re all running after something.

And here we are as a society heading toward Christmas.

But why? What do we expect to find?

Perhaps for some time off from the office routine. Gifts. Football bowl games. Decorations. Ten-foot Christmas trees. Christmas parties. We’re heading toward Christmas and those reasons all seem to be an appropriate part of the landscape of this season within our culture. And in and of themselves, those are okay.

But we’re heading toward Christmas—and the birth that changed the whole world and our lives forever. Where does that fit in within the culture? What priority will that take in our life and in the days ahead as we reach Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus?

What will we do with it? What will we expect to find at the end of the journey? And what will it mean in our lives and for our lives in the days to come and the years that follow?

It’s the season we celebrate the moment in time where it all started. You have to admit God had a pretty strange plan to save the world—by sending His Son in form of a tiny baby—the Baby Jesus—to be the Savior of the world.

The tiny, cute and no longer lonely tree standing in our living room will remind us, in the context of our family tradition, of that Baby every day right up to that morning which is coming again in a few weeks’ time.

We’re heading to the manger, in the stable—to see the Baby Jesus, once again.

What will we do with that Baby when we get there?

What will that Baby do in our lives, and to change our lives, and to change the world?

Do you know where you are heading? Head toward the manger, toward Bethlehem, to the Baby.

We’ll go together.

In His Name—Scott

Copyright 2012. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.