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Tag: Christimas

guy waiting at kitchen table

Waiting for the Plan

Waiting can be painful.
This year has been full of long, agonizing waiting. Waiting for schools to open, see family and friends, travel or vacation, a job position to open, and relief from bills or payments that have started to pile up. We’re told to hang tight for another 2 to 4 weeks, but the waiting has begun to feel endless.

Elizabeth understood what it was like to wait. She’d married Zechariah with the hopes to bear him a handful of children, yet her womb remained empty, and each night, she set their supper table only for two. She watched her hands become wrinkled, and her hair streaked with gray.

However, Luke 1:6 claims she was righteous in the Lord’s eyes, careful to obey all the Lord’s commandments. When she became pregnant, as the angel foretold, she didn’t doubt God’s ability to fulfill His promise. Not only that she would give birth in her old age but that her son will be called a prophet of the Most High, with the power of Elijah. Her son, John the Baptist, would prepare God’s people for the coming of the Lord.

Once she’d given birth to her son, Elizabeth’s waiting wasn’t over, nor were her worries. The baby she cradled in her arms would someday become a prophet, and the world was notoriously unkind to prophets. Queen Jezebel had sought to kill Elijah and had been successful in killing other prophets (1 Kings 19:1-2). The prophet Jeremiah was tossed in a pit because King Zedekiah didn’t like what he told him (Jeremiah 38:6). Daniel was thrown to the lions (Daniel 6:16). It wasn’t uncommon for a prophet to be stoned, jailed, or sawed in half. Elizabeth, who’d waited so long to be a mother, knew her child wouldn’t have an easy life, but she trusted God’s plan.

Her son had a calling. He was to proclaim the coming of a savior. For 400+ years, the world hadn’t seen a prophet. But God was setting things into motion. John the Baptist was born to point them to the light of the world—the messiah that would save them. In the waiting, the worry, and the fears, Elizabeth never lost sight of God’s promises. God had a master plan, and it began with her trusting Him with her son.  

My sweet friend, who has a lung condition, has been waiting in her one-bedroom apartment since March. I admire her because, like Elizabeth, she holds a grateful spirit—that each day and each breath is a gift. She remains positive because she trusts God is making a way.

woman waiting at window

Although waiting isn’t easy and the future is uncertain, God is making away in the wilderness, like Elizabeth, we need to change our waiting to anticipation. As Christmas draws near and 2020 draws to a close, we must wait like children on Christmas Eve, expectantly for the great thing God is doing because He has plans for us.

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Matthew 3:1-3

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Magi following Star of Bethlem

Wishing You a Messy Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas stories is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robertson. I choke up every time I read about the Herdman children, a ragtag group of troublemaking siblings, who discover the true meaning of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, book cover by Barbara RobinsonChristmas while performing in a church pageant. As I read, my kids will hear my voice crack, look up, and shake their heads, “Mom, are you crying?” I’m touched by how Imogene Herdman’s veil is smudged and crooked, and Leroy Herdman, dressed as one of the Wise Men, carries in the ham given them by social services instead of the customary bowl of incense. They made the church’s lovely, traditional pageant into a messy, discombobulated event.

Which, truth be told, was much more how the real event happened.

The delivery of all of my children took place in a hospital with nurses and doctors caring for me. They all suited up for the delivery and scrubbed with sanitizer before they entered the delivery room. Mary, a teenager, gave birth in a lowly dirt floor manger among animals and straw. There were no nurses to hold her hand and tell her when to push. There was no doctor to gently guide baby Jesus into this world. He was born in a barn and slept in an animal’s water trough with sheep bleating and donkey’s neighing.

And then God’s guests appeared. Back in Jesus’s day, there was no indoor plumbing. There was no deodorant. People stank especially those that tended Shepherd and sheepafter animals like shepherds. Shepherds spent days under the hot sun and slept on the cold ground at night. After the Israelites settled in agricultural based Egypt, shepherding lost its prominent position as a trade. Sheep and goats were a threat to crops and therefore a menace to settled farmers. Shepherds were relegated to pastoring their animals only in desert areas and were shunned like tax collectors (Shepherd’s Status, Alcorn 2008). Yet, God sent an angel to invite them to be the first to meet the savior.

There is not much known about the wise men, except that they were called magi and came from the East. Historical records depict the magi as dreamers and stargazers. They sat in the presence of kings who asked their advice for Magi following Starinterpreting astrological signs, dreams, and omens. But, they didn’t know everything as seen in the story of Daniel and in Joseph. When the magi were asked to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar and the Egyptian Pharaoh’s dreams, these wise men didn’t have the answers. They were still searching. So when a bright star appeared in the night these pagan magicians felt compelled to follow it through the desert and bow down to exalt a Hebrew baby as king (Magi, Wise Men or Kings? It’s complicated. by Chad Ashby).

When I think of Jesus’s birth, it’s as if God went out of his way to make a point: Jesus came for everyone. God chose for His one and only son to be born to a teenage girl in a dirty manger. The first visitors were stinky shepherds and pagan astrologers.

If anyone ever wonders if they are good enough to be loved by God, please remember the Christmas story. God didn’t send His son just to save the righteous. Jesus is the gift of amazing grace available to anyone willing to accept the offering. God gave His son to become the light and hope for the blue-collar shepherds, the spiritually lost intellectuals, and the Herdmans of this world.

And most of all, He came for you.

Wishing you a merry and messy, Christmas, because we all need a savior.

If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, here’s a snippet from the Best Christmas Pageant Ever movie (1983) where the Herdman’s are performing the Christmas Story.

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