"I was thinking..."
I was thinking…Pastor Steve
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them."
Luke 2: 4 - 7 (NIV)
I was thinking about the significance of the birth of a baby born over two thousand years ago. I've skipped over this part of Luke in my messages, hoping to come back to it at this time of year. Luke gives a lot of information concerning the birth of Jesus and the events surrounding that time. I think he did it because he wanted to give credence to what he was writing. Luke was considered a historian, and historians like to be fairly accurate in their details. Hopefully, you've noticed that in the messages I've given on Sundays.
We've been looking at the ministry Jesus had when He was a grown man. I've mentioned His baptism, which was the beginning of His ministry, but, at this time of year, we look at the expectation of the first time of His coming, the Advent. Tradition has the four Sundays before Christmas reminding us of the anticipation that the world, or at least the Jews, had for the coming of the Messiah, who is Jesus. We now look forward to His coming back the second time. Until then, we tell the story of anticipation.
Was Christmas a big deal when you were growing up? Maybe you had traditions that you carried over to your current family or you've created new ones as your family has grown. I remember getting an orange, brazil nuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts in my stocking when I was a kid. I'm not sure what the meaning was behind it, because I hadn't asked for them. My best guess is that these were particular items my parents had found in their stockings when they were young. So, the tradition continued.
Traditions are a great way to continue the story, of our family, our history, our culture, and so on. These can be important reminders of the love passed on from one generation to the next. With the tradition, we need to have the story that supports it; otherwise, it becomes something we do out of routine, with no meaning.
That can also happen with celebrating Christmas. We celebrate it in a particular way because, well, we've always done it that way. Do we really take the time to tell the story and meaning behind Christmas at any point during the holiday? We should. We need to take the time as a family to remember the story behind Christmas. Sure, it may delay the meal or the time to open gifts, but it's important to remember why we share those gifts...as a reminder of the Greatest Gift that was given to us and to the whole world, Jesus!
So savor your Christmas traditions and, maybe, start some new ones. Talk about your best memories of Christmas past and why they were special. And remember to take the time to remember the best gift to all mankind. The next generation needs to know their history and the stories behind the traditions and the basis of Christianity. The telling of the baby born in a manger. God bless and Merry Christmas.
(The previous article I wrote in 2018. I thought it was worthy of an encore. Please join Dona and myself as we carry on the tradition of our Christmas Eve Service for you.)