Saturday, December 10, 2011

Third Sunday of Advent: The Amazement of a Baby

We move into the third Sunday of Advent (tomorrow).  I'm a day early, but last week I was a day late, so I am evening things out a little :)

If I were to put a thought or theme into words for this Sunday, it would be JOY or amazement....EXCEEDING JOY!  (again I know there are traditional themes for the Sundays, but this word is leaping out at me today).  Take time in the next couple of days to read the birth of Christ in Luke 2.  A story you hear every December...from the amazing moment in "Charlie Brown's Christmas" to pageants and concerts that fill our calendar days this month.  These historical words ring out all over the world....we hear them every year, yet do we stop and ponder their overwhelming significance?

Our first "witnesses" of this history altering event were the shepherds.  They were terrified and probably equally amazed to have an angel appear to them with a message.  Shepherds in first-century Palestine were a despised group.  Their very job kept them from observing ceremonial law, which at that time meant a lot to the religious of their culture.  They were not a trusted group of men and often considered unreliable, unable to even give testimony in the courts of law.  (interesting considering they probably provided food and livelihood for many of their day - what would they have done without their shepherds?)  Yet, God chose to use this dirty, outcast class to bring the very first message to the people on earth of the birth of His Son (not including the angel, of course).

And they were so AMAZED at what was told them, they hurried to Bethlehem to see "this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told them".  Imagine their excitement when they found exactly what the angel had announced.  Staffs in hand and cloaks a flying, they rushed off to tell everyone they saw.  "And all who heard it were amazed at what the (dirty, unreliable, untrustworthy, ceremonially unclean) shepherds told them" (my emphasis :)

We are missing something vital if we are not AMAZED at what the shepherds saw and proclaimed - GOOD news that will cause GREAT JOY for all people (vs. 10).

I cannot begin to fathom GOD the maker of earth, Eloiym (Creator God), Yahweh (Covenant God), El Elyon (Most High), Adonai (LORD, Master)....becoming a BABY in the flesh for us.  Our salvation.  Our redemption.

I will never forget an eye-opening moment our first Christmas with our oldest daughter.  We were attending a large Christmas dinner with about 100 others.  At the end of the meal and program, my husband gave closing remarks and a prayer.  He held up our baby and with tears streaming down his face said "Can you even imagine GOD ALMIGHTY inhabiting a baby to save us...look at this baby....can you even comprehend it?"  No, I cannot.  It is beyond what my mind and heart can understand.  But yet, He did just that.

Our very good friends' son and wife just had a baby.  Several of us went to the hospital to celebrate with the couple and their newborn.  As I held this darling infant, all swaddled in soft blankets, and I looked upon his beautiful face, I was enamored.  I could have stared into his sleeping face all day.  He was a beautiful newborn baby.  And....I was reminded of our baby Jesus.  I could stare into His face all day!

The birth of babies make our hearts burst with joy, celebration and amazement.  Their innocence, beauty and perfection bring a new sense of life, purpose and beginning.  When a couple of a new baby walk into the room, everyone runs to see the baby and want to ooh and awe and hold the darling.  That is what the arrival of a baby usually does.

"Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" - what the shepherds told her. (vs. 19)  Oh let's ponder today, tomorrow and as we get closer to the day we celebrate the birth of the most incredible and amazing baby ever to be born upon this earth.  Every time you see a baby, ponder.  Every time you gaze at an infant, be amazed at the fact that God actually came in infant form.  


Josiah James
born November 29, 2011
(our newest friend :)
And you can see why I could stare at that baby face all day :)


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