Swoosh! 2011 has to be one of the fastest years I can remember. In the countdown to Christmas, weeks flew by like days. Oh no, its here. No money to buy the presents you want to for those you love and those who have been so important in past year. You feel any present you can afford will pale to the real gratitude and the desire to express it. Some of the joy of Christmas gets lost in the lack of Christmas, but there seems to be nothing you can do about it. You receive good gifts and give crummy ones. You are embarrassed to open presents with friends because you know you will win the receiving stats. You almost can't wait until it is all over (but would never admit it). You don't want bah hum bug to be your Christmas carol.
The truth is, many feel exactly as I describe above. As a matter of fact the above paragraph is a compilation of tid bits I heard this year from different people and some personal thoughts. There is a silver lining to this seemingly dark Christmas cloud. In order to find the joy, IT FORCES YOU TO TAKE THE FOCUS OFF THE PRESENTS AND FOCUS ON THE PRESENT! You know, "the reason for the season". Strip away the pressure of giving "great" gifts and concentrate on the "great" gift. Not only does the birthday "Boy" get lost at his own birthday party, but we are so quick to forget it in a sigh of relief.
Lets not do that this year. Lets spend a few "moments in the manger". If a book were written recording the stories of those who had a really rough Christmas, you would have to lead off with Joseph and Mary. We paint a beautiful picture of the "manger" as the center piece of our Christmas celebration and often time fail to remember what a tough journey it was for Mary and Joseph to get to the "manger moment".
We celebrate that single snapshot because that is where the MIRACLE occurred. This "miracle" was preceded by some pretty strong labor pains. They had to flee to Bethlehem. Any pregnant ladies out there that want to go on a donkey ride? I didn't think so! Any teenage girls out there eager to tell your boyfriends and parents your pregnant, but the boyfriend is not to blame? Any boyfriends ready to pop the question to the pregnant girlfriend that you've never slept with? How bout telling your buds what you are fixing to do. I got it girls! Tell them the Holy Spirit got you pregnant. "That's my story and I'm sticking to it!" I think I would run for the hills next time I saw an angel.
The physical and emotional strain for both Mary and Joseph would have been enough for most anyone to throw in the towel and say I don't want to have anything to do with it. COUNT ME OUT!
Joseph was going to be a gentleman and quietly divorce himself from the story. He loved Mary and did not want to embarrass her, but a good Jewish boy did not marry a pregnant girl. A visit from an angel helped Joseph see that it was not about "his moment" but about "HIS MOMENT". It wasn't about "messed up marriage plans" but rather a "miracle in a manger". Thank God for Joseph 's willingness to travel the selfless journey to the manger with a fearful young girl willing to bear the shame as she bore the CHILD that would forever change her world, THE WORLD.
Just maybe it is through the tough journeys, if we stay the course, die to self and deliver Jesus to the world, that we might find our "miracle in the manger". In 2012, I hope you find your "moment in the manger". You just might if you CHOOSE THE JOURNEY!