I have a beautiful friend who speaks Truth from a stage as well as from the chair across from you. In late November, I heard her talk about the holidays… and my heart is still sorting out the lessons all these weeks later. Walk with me a bit? The closer I get to the new year, the more I realize Gail’s message gives me hope for a new beginning.
It starts and ends here: JOY is not in your circumstances. JOY is in your savior. If something is keeping you from joy, that something is keeping you from Jesus.
Unwrap your nativity again, please. Can we look at a few people we may have already packed away for the year? What did they have that allowed them a permanent spot in the history of Christ’s birth?
Look at Joseph.
We know Joseph was engaged to be married, he was a carpenter, and he was a righteous man… until his betrothed became pregnant. And, he knew he wasn’t the father. Upon arriving in his hometown for the census, he was not welcomed by his relatives and found himself without a roof over his head. This, in a culture of hospitality and extended family, not simply a matter of there being no room in the inn. This is a family that has rejected their son. When Joseph decided to step into the disorder that was his engagement to a now pregnant woman, he risked his reputation and his family ties to be obedient to the Lord’s command.
Joseph was courageous.
Where could my ‘yes’ change the world? My hesitant, awkward, but full-faithed YES?
Where do you stand to worship and bow down? Or perhaps: how close have you been to the manger? Do you stand outside the barn, behind the animals and angels and wise men to worship? Or do you crawl right up to the side of the crib and look Him in the eye?
The magi, who were Gentiles, worshipped the king of the Jews. They put their lives on hold and walked for three years following a star to see a foreign, infant king. It might take years- like the magi’s journey, but what am I being asked to leave behind in order be near? Am I relying on someone’s else’s view of the manger to worship a King who has personally invited me to come close? Have I forgotten how to worship?
The magi worshipped.
And they refused to be anywhere but right up front.
By trade, the shepherds were protectors. They lived on the margins of society… way out in the fields. Was it lonely? Certainly. Were they outsiders? Yes. YET. God broke in and changed the course of their history… and the rest of mankind’s by allowing them to be the first to announce the birth of the Christ Child.
Margin. Life happens in the margins. Way out there on the edges, beyond the schedules and the commitments and the usual. You may have to leave things behind, but make room.
The shepherds made room.
And then, of course, there is Mary. Always my favorite. She is such a beautiful mystery. One day on the traditional road to marriage and the next told she is pregnant and to give birth to the Ruler of Nations. Being pregnant before marriage was grounds to be outcast and abandoned, but God called her highly favored and blessed among women. What would have brought shame in the usual circumstances instead brought joy in the Savior. He gave her a fresh start, a new purpose.
Mary received a new identity.
‘Tis the season for resolutions or words to focus on or weight to lose. I, for one, am terrible at all those things. I think, if we’re honest, we need a little of everything the cast of the nativity has to offer.
Joy is not in your circumstances. Joy in your savior. If something is keeping you from joy, that something is keeping you from Jesus.
Do you need more courage?
More intimate worship?
Space. Maybe you need to clean house a bit and empty out your margins?
Or a new identity in Christ?
God is in the business of breaking norms and changing lives.
It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe
maybe this year will be better than the last.