12 Days of Anticipation: Day 8 God With Us

Day 8- God with us

Emmanuel. God with us. This is the moment we have all been waiting for! Jesus is born.

Mary gives birth. Pain and anguish are followed by relief and overwhelming joy as she sees her son for the first time. The pain of childbirth, the very curse given to Eve at the first sin, produces the One who will save mankind from it. So much hope, so much anticipation, so many dreams for the future are wrapped in this tiny bundle. Every child is a miracle, but this one is the Son of God. The long awaited Savior with ten perfect little fingers and ten little toes has finally come. The King of Kings with such alert eyes for a newborn. The Wonderful Counselor with an adorable nose. The Prince of Peace with that precious tongue just barely poking out as he yawns. And Mary treasures all of these things in her heart. And what a treasure it is!

And the new father! The pride that Joseph felt when first holding his son, the protective flood of love for this tiny child, was only a small reflection of the deeper expression of our Father's love for us, poured out in this gift of his only Son. What we receive with joy was God's sacrificial gift given in love. How amazing to know that our Father loves us so much!

Mary holds this baby, so tiny, yet an enormous burden. She will love this child born in a barn, raise Him moving from country to country to avoid death threats, lose Him to ministry (who are my mother and brothers?), and even watch Him die a horrific death on a cross. The path will tear at her very soul, but for tonight, she holds in her arms the very One who will be her salvation. As this baby reaches out his arms with a first cry, he enters the world the same way He will leave it, arms stretched out with a final cry. But even that last moment, as far ahead in the story as it is, is not the end!

Have you experienced that flood of love for another human that is only a taste of the Father's love for us?
Have you also experienced the pain of raising children? Losing them in some way?
In what ways have you expressed your gratitude for God's gift of his Son this Christmas?

We wonder why Christmas time always seems so bitter sweet, and I think it is because even the first Christmas started out that way. All great acts of love come at a cost. But true acts of selfless love are always worth the price.

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12 Days of Anticipation: Day 6 No Room

Day 6- No Room

When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem to be counted for the census, the town was filled with people who had been traveling for the same reason. When they found a place to stay, they were told that there was no room for them at the inn, and they were forced to take shelter in the barn for the night.

What was going through the innkeeper's head as he told them there was no room? Was he physically drained, exhausted from making as many people cram into his establishment as possible and had no corner to fit them into? Was he emotionally poor, looking at their situation without compassion or empathy? Was he financially strained, either unable or unwilling to give resources to help a couple in their time of need? Was he out of time, not having enough hours in the day to complete all that he already had on his plate? Was he spiritually empty, having heard of their story, an unwed couple expecting a child, and chose to judge instead of love? We don't know what made the inn keeper tell Mary and Joseph that there was no room at the inn that night. All we know is that Jesus was turned away.

While I have always been surprised by this turn of events- no room for a pregnant woman about to go into labor- I wonder how many times we have the same reaction as the inn keeper. It is difficult to have room for Jesus in today's world. We have time to check our social media but not to open our Bibles. We seem to have time to not miss an episode of our favorite shows, but frequently miss out on what God is doing around us. The truth is for us, and I suspect for the inn keeper as well, it isn't that we don't have room, but that we don't make room. And when we don't make room for a personal relationship with Jesus, we miss out on having room in our lives to be a part of what He is doing around us. Once you make room for Him, it is easier to make room for the people around us who are hurting and in need- people who WE are meant to reach out to.

What is keeping you from making room for Jesus in your life each day?
What limitations are keeping you from seeing the needs of others around you? Are you lacking physically, emotionally, financially or spiritually?
What is something that you can take out of your schedule so that you can have more freedom of time to help others?
How can you make room?

While Mary and Joseph being turned away seems like an unfortunate and unfair turn of events, God uses even this situation as a statement about who Jesus is...

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