Monday, December 24, 2012

A Time for Giving


Dear Friends,

What are you giving for Christmas?

God the Father scattered the Milky Way across the skies, hung Saturn’s rings in place, and thought about Christmas.  God the Son, working in unity with the Father, fashioned the lumbering oxen and the gentle cow with His creative power, and thought often of the day when the Father would speak the Word, and He would become flesh.  On that day he would gaze with “baby eyes” upon the very creatures He had made.  God, the Holy Spirit, moving as a shadow upon the face of the waters in Genesis days, knew one day it would be necessary to move again. This time He would overshadow Mary’s womb, that “the Holy thing” to be born of her should be called the “Son of God.”

Adam, walking with God in the Garden of Eden, oblivious to such names as Bethlehem, Herod, Egypt, Gethsemane, and Calvary, chose in one appalling moment the company of Satan rather than God.  Adam opted for the kingship of self rather than the kingdom of God, and the bondage of sin rather than the glorious liberty of God’s children.  But even at that time Adam heard the Maker’s promise: The promised Seed would bruise the serpent’s head.  God was saying, “Christmas is coming, Adam.”  And I believe that, even there in the Garden, the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – celebrated the Christmas redemption that would come someday.

Many of God’s people throughout time thought about God’s special gift, and offered their own gifts in thankful response.  These gifts are not boxes decorated with tinsel, silver bells, and Father Christmases, but unique contributions to the tremendous story of God’s special gift. In quiet sadness Jeremiah contemplated the massacre of the infants.  Hosea joyfully thanked God for the escape to Egypt.  Micah let the world know where Jesus would be born.  And Isaiah told us that God’s gift would come special delivery, a son born of a virgin.  This son would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Four hundred years later, as an elderly Elizabeth was thinking about those promised gifts, God was busy wrapping His Christmas present form heaven in human flesh.  Christmas came early for Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth welcomed her cousin Mary, the outcast, ostracized, pregnant young girl, God pulled back the wrapping paper just a little, to let her have a peek at His present. Elizabeth’s own baby leaped in her womb for joy, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit, and said: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy” (Lk. 1:42-45).

Encouraged and strengthened by her cousin, Mary also prepared.  She believed the anointed One must come and soon, and by her holy character made ready to acknowledge her Messiah and yield her allegiance to Him.  God couldn’t have a Christmas without a Mary.  He needed more than just a devout person, someone who attended synagogue and said her prayers.  The child Christ needed a body to live in!

When God became a baby, He knew He’d need to compress,
His vastness, glory, all that power, into littleness.
A baby was the answer, but where to find the one,
The one who’d say, “Be born in me –“ 
Oh, let me bear your son?”

Would Mary be the earthly vehicle for God’s divine action?  “Now wait a minute,” the devil must have whispered to Mary.  “You’ve got everything going for you—

You’re engaged to be married, what will people say,
When you say that your baby is conceived in a new way?
Just imagine their startled incredulity,
When you say so sincerely, “God gave it to me!”

But Mary offered the gift of her body.  She whispered, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Lk. 1:38, KJV).

Christmas is a time for giving.  The prophets gave their promises.  Elizabeth gave her praise. Mary gave her body.  Joseph gave his reputation. The innkeeper gave his stable. The shepherds gave their time.  And God gave His Son.  Tell me, do you see your present there?

What are you giving for Christmas?

Christmas Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us 



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