I woke up early this Christmas morning, not because a child was shaking me from my slumber as in the “olden days” but because I AM old. In the quiet I got to hypothesizing what it was like the first morning Mary and Joseph awoke with the Son of God in their arms instead of in Mary’s womb.
After the onset of contractions that sent Joseph scrambling for ANY PLACE to lodge.
After the last minute check in to the stable.
After Joseph had to do way more than boil water and pass out cigars.
After the arrival of God through a human birth canal! One moment it was two; the next it was three - and the newest member of the trio had made the trip, not just from Nazareth, but from Glory.
After a strange smell wafted in and lowly shepherds darkened their door - and then worshipped.
After they drifted off to exhausted sleep and awoke to the hungry cry of a newborn. Of God wanting breakfast.
What was it like for the new parents to open their sleepy eyes to see that diminutive God-human needing a new set of swaddling clothes and demanding a meal?
October 11, 1982, March 18, 1985, August 3, 1988, and December 3, 1989 were each days of wonder and awe as Sheila and I looked at a brand new child. There are enough syllables to articulate what happens in a parent’s heart. I think that is why God created tears. Blubbering just seems to express so much more than incomprehensible stammering. But those children showed up as billions of humans throughout the eons of time. Oh, the wonder never dims, but it is normal.
Ratchet that up by as many multipliers as you can comprehend… peg the wonder meter to “overload”… try to get into the minds of these new parents gazing at a child born but never humanly conceived… and add in that Creator God was embedded in this helpless, fragile, toothless, wordless, immobile, less than ten pounds package of bone, blood and tissue.
Surely they stared as the hard drive in their brains spun out of control endeavoring to process it all! How they must have wrapped their arms around the God-child as they tried to get their hearts around what God had done. Certainly Mary composed a song to the Savior as she rocked and He cooed (I mean, she sang the Magnificat, after all!).
Most of all I think they gaped in amazed, astonished, anxious awe.
“Can this really have happened, Joseph?” Mary may have asked. “I know I was there (chuckle), but Joseph, it is so surreal. This child… I know it was the Holy Spirit Who placed Him in my womb… I know the angel said He is Messiah… but, Joseph, LOOK at Him! Now that He’s in my arms, it’s different. Could God have really given us the honor, of all people who ever lived, to have His Son grow up in our home?”
Sheila and I still look at our kids with wonder, (though there were days during the teen era when it was a different kind of wonder). We look in wonder at the miracle God performed in conception, birth and growth.
For Joseph and Mary, did the wonder ever wear off? Did they look at the child every day and remember all the miracles? Did they shake their heads in awe as Jesus said His first words… took His first steps… had His first birthday… put on His first “big-boy” tunic… got His first haircut… got His first “boo boo”.. went to synagogue the first time…?
Back to the animal shelter in Bethlehem. On the day after the Holy Night, I can’t help but wonder what it was like. Just the three of them alone in a town eighty miles from home. But not really alone. For the Presence of God was never nearer.
On this day, please recapture some of that wonder. Because of that birth, life, death and resurrection, we too can experience the Presence of God nearer than ever. Lean into the awe of what this day is truly all about. The marvel that God is crazy in love with you!
Those kinds of moments, experiencing God’s crazy love and the awe that He does, are worth waking up way early on this Christmas Day.
16So they (the shepherds) hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:16-20 (NIV)
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