Advent: Pretty Cards Don’t Portray Real Story

Post a Comment » Written on December 22nd, 2005     
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MOLINE, IL (December 22, 2005)  – Editor’s note: In preparation for the  Christmas observance, Covenant Communications is sharing devotionals  that originally appeared in local Covenant church newsletters and are  being published here by permission. The following comes from Randall  Surey of First Covenant Church in Moline.

By Randall Surey

One of the things we often fail to understand is that the original  Christmas was an overwhelming event for those who experienced it. Our  Christmas cards tend to be picturesque scenes that do not reflect the  difficulty and hardship of the event. And in our rush to celebrate each  year, we fail to consider how traumatic it was for those involved.

The announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary had to be a very heavy  burden for a girl who was most likely in her middle teens. How in the  world do you explain such a thing to your parents and friends and  especially to your fiancé? We know that Joseph had his struggles with  the whole thing because Matthew tells us of his plans and of his  encounter with the angel of the Lord that changed his plans. We also  know that Mary was sent to spend some time with a relative, Elizabeth,  perhaps to get her out of the public eye for a while.

Then there was the whole census problem. It required Joseph to travel to  Nazareth to register, and Mary went with him on the 90-plus-mile trip.  We have no idea if she was required to go, but it might have been best  to get her away from Nazareth.

Our Christmas cards also tend to show Mary riding on a donkey, but it is  most likely that they both walked the entire distance since they  probably could not afford a donkey. Nine months pregnant and walking 90  miles in difficult weather. Then you have the difficulty of finding a  place to stay and ending up having Jesus born in a stable. Again, no  matter how picturesque our Christmas cards make it, it was still a  smelly old stable. Add into the mix the visit by the shepherds and the  wise men, Herod’s attempt to kill the child and the exile journey into  Egypt, and you have a sequence of events that would challenge the faith  of even the strongest person.

Yet that was why God did it that way. One of the names for the Messiah  was to be Emmanuel, which means God with us. Mary and Joseph could never  have made their way through such a sequence of events unless God was  leading them step by step and preparing the way before them. Another  name was to be Prince of Peace. The only way that Mary and Joseph could  have made their way through the “mess” they found themselves in is if  God gave to them a sense of peace that they were doing what God called  them to do.

And finally, the Messiah was to be known as Almighty God. If you  consider all that had to happen, all the preparations that needed to be  made, all the pieces that had to fall into place, it took the Almighty  God to pull it all off. Christmas is a celebration of God’s love,  provision and might. It is a reminder that the same love, provision and  might is available to us in the midst of our storm-filled lives. What  more can we say but Hallelujah! What a Savior!

(Editor’s note: to read earlier Advent messages, please see:

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