Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmastime in Tennessee

Immanuel . . . God with us.  (Matt. 1:23)
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (Jn. 1:14)
Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, wise men, etc. are all parts of the Christmas story,
but JESUS is the central figure. 

This Christmas was the first time Miles & I were able to be in our home for Christmas day.  We are typically in Pennsylvania my family, but this year my family celebrated a few days early.  So we came home to TN looking to start some of our own traditions.  It was a little last minute to find a copy of The Nativity Story to watch on Christmas Eve, so we intend to do that in the future. 

Christmas morning we got up and read the Christmas story from Scripture.  The only tradition we were certain we wanted to have was to be sure that the day started with the reason for the celebration.  So Miles slowly read from Luke & Matthew as we took in the story again.  There were a few things that caught our attention this year . . .
1.  The story is often depicted that Mary & Joseph arrive in Bethlehem, and Jesus is born that night.  This may have happened, but it doesn't say that. They could have been in town a few days. The census was taking place, so Bethlehem may have been without a place to stay for several nights. 
2. The story is often depicted with an innkeeper taking Mary & Joseph to a stable, but that isn't actually stated in Scripture.  There wasn't room in the inn, so Mary & Joseph had to find a place to stay.  Now the innkeeper may have done so, but we didn't see it in Scripture. 
3.  The story is often depicted with a star over the manger, but the star led the wisemen not the shepherds.  Who knows when the star actually appeared.  In Luke 2:12, the shepherds were told that they sign will be finding a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger not to follow a star.  (And a common misconception is that the wise men were at the birth, but they didn't show up for awhile.)
#1 & 2 are more just speculation . . . but #3 was most interesting to us. 

I hope that as you had time off work, as you shopped, purchased, and opened gifts, as you and your families spent time together this Christmas that you took time to reflect on the King of Kings, the Son of the almighty, eternal God, being born in a dirty manger to poor, young, and inexperienced people willing to submit themselves to being used for God's purposes.  I love that God used them . . . His story is full of people the weak, uneducated, poor, submissive, and willing being used in great ways to carry out God's plan.  It takes alot of pressure off!

Merry Christmas!