Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Tradition… Is there such a thing? And if so what should it look like?
Hare are some thoughts that I have been mulling over lately. You see, in my family we have a tradition that around New Years we all get together (My 2 brothers and my sister + all their kids.. a total of 27 of us) at Mom and Dad’s. Mom and Dad then share their heart for Christ and their love for all of us and then give gifts to each and every one of us. We use to buy gifts for all the nieces and nephews but once 13, then 14 now with 17 of them, we just can’t do that.

Yet we stew about ‘tradition’, wanting to create family traditions etc.. Yet I keep coming back to the story in Luke. No where in this story do I see Family. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my family. To me family is those who it doesn’t matter what they did or how they act, you LOVE them unconditionally. You know 1 Cor. 13 talks about this and although the only time we ever hear it is in Weddings or sermons about Marriage, it applies to ALL love. It is a love for your Family, Friends, neighbors and even strangers.

So let’s get back to the Tradition that I see in the scriptures about Christ’s birth. Luke 2 (NLT)

An Event for Everyone
8-12There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

So who came to spend Christmas with Mary and Joseph? Remember they were in Bethlehem for the Census, where all of Joseph’s relatives would have presumably been as well. Yet they were alone. In my mind, and I know I am taking liberty, but I don’t see Mary and Joseph traveling all alone as the movies show. I see them traveling in a caravan with the myriad of others who had to go. Yet they were alone. I see the ‘family’ they may have been with or who made it before them since Mary had to travel slower then the others, as rushing to take the rooms and didn’t even think to ‘reserve’ one for them. They were alone.

And who came to them? One Inn keeper. Can you see with me him leading them to a stable? You know that mangy, dirty and SMELLY place out back where the animals slept, ate and even POOPED. Oh and remember they were full so it had to be crowded with animals. If you were the inn keeper wouldn’t you just wish you could do more? Then his wife hearing about this pregnant girl (Cause remember Mary was still probably just a 13 to 15 year old girl) sleeping in their STABLE probably rushed to EVERY person in the Inn asking them to give up room and leaving in disgust that NONE of them would budge. No one would have compassion on a pregnant couple. So she, with what little she could do, came out and gave them food and maybe some blankets. Do you think she was there when Jesus was born? Did she play mid-wife?

Can you picture Mary and Joseph, who were in awe of this child, thinking and possibly even wondering how this baby was born like any other? No flashes of lightening. No loud voices from heaven. Maybe it was all bad kefir that I ate giving me those dreams.
It had been months since those visions and how quickly we forget things.

But then there came the Shepherds who saw the Angels and came to worship when Jesus was born. Do you think they took a bath before coming? Do you think they had even had a bath in the month previous? Quite possibly no. Yet Mary didn’t turn her nose at them and tell them to leave. Joseph didn’t tell them to get out of the stable. They welcomed them. Can you picture Mary and Joseph even letting them hold him, or grab his fingers. Can you see the laughter in Joseph’s eye’s as the Shepherds who came to see what the Angels had told them were astonished at home ‘normal’ and regular this KING appeared.

So again, let me ask… What tradition do I see here? I see spending Christmas with others. I see a giving of ourselves. An excepting of our positions, whether it be poor, alone, rich, or even vagabonds. I see us praising God for his gift of Jesus who came in a normal baby; a normal human like the rest of us. Yes he dirtied his diaper. Yes he probably cried when teething. In fact he probably got the flu like others. Yet he came as God in Flesh to live among us, to walk among us, to suffer among us and die among us so that we can LIVE!

This Christmas don’t focus on the giving of ‘gifts’ that will be unwrapped and left sitting beside the tree until it is taken down in June. You know that ‘gift’ the one you just HAD to have. Instead give the gift of LOVE to someone who needs to see God’s love in this world. I can think of so many who need God’s love… from the Wyse’s of this world that are living on the street because they spend every dollar they get on Alcohol. To the children of Haiti who are suffering from a natural disaster and no hope in their lifetime of seeing life return to ‘normal’. Or maybe there is a family in your own church who is dealing with the loss of a loved one this Christmas. Maybe the loss of an income and the tree will not have the normal supply of gifts for their children. What would happen if you invited them in to your house for Christmas dinner? What if you NEW family tradition would be to enlarge your ‘family’ this Christmas… Do you think this would be more in line with Christ’s intent?

I pray for all of you that this will be a Christmas that God uses to TURN YOUR LIFE upside down for his glory!

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