I could grumble a bit, but this isn't the season of grumbling. I caught a 'bug' recently that laid me low at this busy time of year. I'm sure you've heard about our rainstorms here in San Diego. A few more days of confinement. The result of all this is my cookie baking and shopping suffered. I guess the Lord thought we needed a good scrubbing down because the rain at times was like going through a car wash. The sun is out today, lots of Christmas green, some ominous clouds hanging around. I'm concentrating on the blue between.
I was out the door early this morning, my husband and dogs still asleep, and with a cup of coffee in hand I headed for my favorite department store. I actually did some on-line shopping this year and found I could get the sale price, use discount coupons, pay for wrapping but free shipping. This is definitely going to be the way I do shopping from now on. Our daughter who recently moved to NYC and I made an agreement to give to those in need and not buy much for each other.....good idea.
A few years ago I bought this daughter a Nativity scene for her birthday in early November. One day I was standing in line at a grocery store and my cell rang. "Mom, there's no baby Jesus!" said my daughter. She was decorating for Christmas and discovered the missing infant. "You lost Jesus?" I asked. The conversation went back and forth and I begin to notice others in line were listening. One woman said to her little boy, they can't find the baby Jesus, the little boy looked worried. I was able to get another set that had all the pieces. Amazing I think that a baby is born over 2,000 years ago and virtually the whole world acknowledges this birth. It must have something to do with the fact that the baby is God incarnate!
Christmas was a big deal to my family and I had some fun times and good memories. But, even though we usually attended a candle light service on Christmas Eve to honor the birth of Christ, I don't ever remember having a nativity scene in the house while growing up. I have a very clear memory of standing in line at a drug store a couple of weeks before Christmas the first year I was married. While waiting my turn, I had my eye on a very nice small nativity scene, it was $9.99, back then that was a lot of money. I really wanted to bring home the 'Holy Family' and decided that my husband would approve. Through the years the paper mache' figures of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, plus the little sheep, all broke apart, and were thrown away, but for some reason the 'Three Wise Men' still survive today, almost in perfect condition and almost fifty years old.
Our five children always had a hand in decorating the house and tree. One year son Gerry who was about 8 1/2, was tearing through the boxes frantically. Finally I asked him, "What are you looking for?" His answer, "Those three wise guys". So of course, we now call them 'The Three Wise Guys'. We had Santa too.....the real St. Nicholas was a priest from Turkey, yes Santa has Christian roots. My husband was a great Santa and fooled his own children for several years, but then the day came when our youngest, Krislyn, shouted "Hi daddy" when Santa burst through the door. From then on Santa visited younger children and loved watching the awe and sparkle in their eyes.
Our oldest, Kraig took a turn playing Santa one year. I think all the assembled grandparents enjoyed it as much as the kids. Son Steve still remembers how dad tried to mimic the sound of 'Rudolph', it came out a bark. Exactly what kind of noise does a reindeer make anyway? We discovered Jill and Krislyn were allergic to the flocking on the live trees we bought, so that was the end of flocked trees in our home. We had to take a drive up to the mountains to see real snow clinging to the pines.
While looking for....I wasn't sure what....in the men's department today, an older man started a conversation with me. Somehow we got from cotton shirts to God's constant presence and guiding hand in our lives. He was missing his wife of fifty-two years, she died this year. He told me how so many years ago, he and two friends had planned to get a hamburger and then go to a movie one night. They were young, just got out of the Navy, didn't have much money and so one of the friends suggested they go have dinner at his church. Guess what, it was free potluck night! The other two said 'NO' they'd have to stay for the singing and would miss the movie. The church attender assured them they could just pop in and eat and be on their way, so they agreed. "And there she was" he said. "Who?" I asked. "The woman who would be my wife, and my love for fifty-two years" he answered. God ordained that meeting, as He ordains everything, a perfect plan in place, even though it doesn't always look perfect from our human point of view. He told me he knew she was in heaven and hoped to join her there someday, but added, "of course we don't know for sure if we'll make it". I told him I knew for sure and shared the gospel with him, standing there in the middle of Christmas shopping with Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas' playing in the background. God always has us where we need to be. Life is really a series of little miracles. Hold on to them because Satan will steal them in a heartbeat!! He masquerades as an 'angel of light' you know, 2 Corinthians 11:14, the great deceiver.
Other than the miracle of the virgin birth, you might think it a miracle that the Three Wise Men (also referred to as the Magi) ever found the baby Jesus. A couple of years ago we were in the lovely city of Cologne, Germany and visited the famous cathedral there. It is here that the remains of the Magi rest. It was a thrill to stand and look at the gold inlaid 'coffin', all sealed in glass, and recall the journey of these men so long ago. You know how blessed we are when we get out the Bible and let God show us His story. So.....I'm going to give you a few verses that I hope will bless your celebration of the King.
Ancient prophesies of Balaam, Daniel and David.....Numbers 24:17, Daniel 9:24-26, Psalm 110:4 all point to this child whose birth had been announced by a star. He was not only destined to be the King, but would also become the Messianic Sacrifice to reconcile us to God, our relationship having been broken by sin. This King would become our eternal 'High Priest' who would live to make intercession for those who believe.....Hebrews 7:25.
A few years ago I was asked to speak at a Christmas luncheon for a pregnancy resource group. I choose to talk about the Magi and the gifts they brought. I think you'd agree these were not your typical baby gifts! What did they mean? GOLD.....a gift you'd give a King, one who had the right to reign, FRANKINCENSE....relates to the incense that is offered in the heavenly tabernacle, MYRRH.....to testify that His crucified body would be anointed as it was placed in the tomb for a temporary burial, John 19:39. The prophesy of the coming Christ had been handed down from generation to generation.....the star shone that night, the time had come to bow down and worship this newborn King....Matthew 2:11.
May God open our hearts to His love,
our minds to His wonders
our ears to His voice
our lives to His presence.
Thank you Lord for coming to earth, dying and raising again so we who believe can have eternal life.
A very Merry CHRISTmas to all.