I’ve been thinking about what’s gotten into my heart lately. The moments that make me. A few years ago one of my biggest fans died. My aunt. I hadn’t seen her in over a decade. She lived in Wisconsin. I lived in Indiana. Life kept getting in the way and I never got to see her before she passed on.
My family took it to mean that I didn’t care. And that’s okay, I understand it and might feel the same. But here’s the truth. Before I shared most of my writing with my immediate family, I shared it with her. And she shared it with her church and that warmed my heart. When she died I was given an envelope that had some of the past devotionals I had shared with her
Last year I didn’t write anything big. I didn’t want to. It didn’t feel right. My biggest writing fan wasn’t there and so I didn’t feel I had anything to say.
This year I’ve been thinking about what I’ve wanted to say and if I wanted to say it at all. This is what I’ve come to. Life is full of memories. Whether it’s past remembrances of loved ones, stolen glances from someone who takes your breath away or just the presence of someone that lights up your day, there are moments in life we will never forget.
I’ve also been thinking about how we respond to the moments we have. As I’ve read the Christmas story over and over I am confronted with the idea that the players in this cosmic story of the birth of Jesus have responded much better than I would have ever been able to respond to the situations they were put in
I don’t know if you ever thought about it but our Bible would have been the closest thing Mary, Joseph, Jesus and others had to a family photo album. Their moments that became memories are our Bible. Their biography is our Bible.
There is one other story in the New Testament that comes before the Christmas story. The birth of John. His father, Zechariah was a priest. While in the temple he had an encounter with an angel who told him he was going to have a son and he’d be named John. He doubted. As a result he was rendered mute until his son was born. He had plenty of moments to curse God for gaining a pretty debilitating disability. He didn’t. The irony of the situation has never escaped me. John was born to be a herald telling people about Jesus. His father, not so much.
John was not a family name. If you go into the story, you will find that Zechariah’s friends questioned his choice of name. And this was the test of Zechariah’s faith. He could have chosen to deny God and call him any other name but he insisted.
Then there was Mary. She was a virgin. she also received a heavenly visitation that, in essence, told Mary that God considered her Holy enough to carry the Son of God. There was no word of a moment of worry. Instead she praised God for the opportunity.
Joseph may not have had the best reaction to the situation, although he redeemed himself. According to The Christmas story, Joseph was ready to cancel his betrothal to Mary. He received a visitation as well. In the end, he became the willing father to the King of the Jews.
Lastly, there was the situation that lead to the birth of Christ. I can’t imagine that traveling through the desert, or any climate on the back of an animal while 9 months pregnant couldn’t have been easy under any circumstances.
In addition, Joseph had to go door to door to find a place to stay only to find moments of rejection again and again to witness his wife giving birth in a stable. That had to be disheartening and demoralizing.
But their faithfulness was awarded, receiving gold, incense and myrrh from royal servants.
Life has a way of throwing moments at us that are either completely out of our control or divinely orchestrated. Either way, we have a choice to make. We can harden our hearts and doubt or try to find the glimmer of hope in every situation. I’m not too good at finding the hope, but I know it’s there and sometimes that can be enough.
Whether you believe it or not, you are part of a cosmic plan put together by divine creation. To anyone reading this, you are loved. Share that love. Find the moment that is grace in your life. Choose to be it.
Merry Christmas, everyone.