Each year since having our own children my husband and I have searched and planned for ways to make Christmas meaningful. I’ve learned over the past few years that many activities and going and doing EVERYTHING does not equate to a Merry Christmas. Actually we’ve found that simple is best. My plans for Christmas this year simplified even more after reading this quote (by Jeffrey R. Holland) in one of our family devotionals.
There are so many lessons to be learned from the sacred account of Christ’s birth that we always hesitate to emphasize one without considering all the others…
One impression which has persisted with me is that this is a story of intense poverty. I wonder if Luke did not have some special meaning when he wrote not “there was no room in the inn” but specifically that “there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7; emphasis added).
We cannot be certain what the historian intended, but we do know these two were desperately poor…
Perhaps this provides an important distinction we should remember in our own holiday season. Maybe the purchasing and the making and the wrapping and the decorating should be separated, if only slightly, from the more quiet, personal moments when we consider the meaning of the Baby (and his birth) who prompts the giving of such gifts.
The gold, frankincense, and myrrh were humbly given and appreciatively received. And so our gifts should be, every year and always. As my wife and children can testify, no one gets more giddy about the giving and receiving of presents than I do. But for that very reason, I, like you, need to remember the very plain scene, even the poverty, of a night devoid of tinsel or wrapping or goods of this world. Only when we see that single, sacred, unadorned object of our devotion—the Babe of Bethlehem—will we know why the giving of gifts is so appropriate.
What Joseph must have felt as he moved through the streets of a city not his own, with not a friend or kinsman in sight, nor anyone willing to extend a helping hand. In these very last and most painful hours of her “confinement,” Mary had ridden or walked approximately 160 kilometers from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea. Surely Joseph must have wept at her silent courage. Now, alone and unnoticed, they had to descend from human company to a stable, a grotto full of animals, there to bring forth the Son of God.
I wonder what emotions Joseph might have had as he cleared away the dung and debris. I wonder if he felt the sting of tears as he hurriedly tried to find the cleanest straw and hold the animals back. I wonder if he wondered: “Could there be a more unhealthy, a more disease-ridden, a more despicable circumstance in which a child could be born? Is this a place fit for a king? Should the mother of the Son of God be asked to enter the “valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4) in such a foul and unfamiliar place as this? Is it wrong to wish her some comfort? Is it right He should be born here?”
Perhaps these parents knew even then that in the beginning of his mortal life, as well as in the end, this baby son born to them would have to descend beneath every human pain and disappointment. He would do so to help those who also felt they had been born without advantage.
At this focal point of all human history, a point illuminated by a new star in the heavens revealed for just such a purpose, probably no other mortal watched—none but a poor young carpenter, a beautiful virgin mother, and silent stabled animals who had not the power to utter the sacredness they had seen.
Shepherds would soon arrive and, later, wise men would follow from the East. But first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby—that’s how Christmas began.
Today we had very few gifts, those which we did have were mostly homemade, we had good food and spent the majority of our day in service. Everyone was happy, it was one of the most memorable Christmases I’ve had thus far. I’m recording this now so that each year I can look back and think about how the first Christmas really was, and that truly HE is the REASON for the season.