Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas

Dearest Family and Friends,

For the most part, I try to stay off the email forwarding train. If your in-box is anything like mine, you already have more than enough to sort through without multiple copies of the same trivial thing popping in from different email friends. However, every once in a while I get something that moves me. After taking a moment to check that it's not a scam (thank goodness for, I ponder who I know that might appreciate the message. Yesterday, that very thing happened. You see, I have had a tough time getting into the "Christmas Spirit" this year. I can't seem to get the sights, sounds and smells of our trip to Ethiopia out of my head. I look at our beautiful daughter Grace, who spent months of her life sick and failing to thrive, and find it very difficult to shop for gifts that will just be added to the abundance that already exists. It's not about a lack of appreciation, but of greater need somewhere else. Our own Christmases of the past have been an awesome sight. That's something we needed to reassess this year. Our adoption journey and travels to the 3rd world have changed something deep within us. If we, like so many others, are going to stretch our budget for the Christmas season, we need to use wisdom and discernment in deciding where those resources should go. We will still be giving and receiving gifts this year, but they will be more on the modest side, and whenever possible, will benefit those in need. So, back to the email I got yesterday; I couldn't decide who to send it to since the message is intended for everyone. Please enjoy this beautiful take on the impoverished, but amazingly joyous birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas and much love from our house to yours!!


Philippians 2:6-8, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedience unto death, even the death of the cross."

What is Christmas today? Christmas trees, decorations, lights, tinsel, parties, Santa Claus, and an over abundance of food. Total antipathy to the very first Christmas!

The first Christmas was celebrated in poverty. Today, if a couple were so poor that they had to have their baby in a dirty animal stable, the Social Services would take their baby away from them. But 2000 years down the line, it seems that the humility of Christmas has been forgotten.

I think it would be good to remind ourselves of the true reality of Christmas, don't you?

1. The humility of Mary.

Mary was a humble maiden with a humble lineage. She was not a royal princess. She was not a High Priest's daughter. She was not rich. Mary herself confesses in her song, "He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.... He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree..." (Luke 1:48-49) But God chose this unknown virgin to bring forth His precious Son. He chose her because she was a willing vessel. Often those who have everything materially, are not willing vessels.

God is not looking for riches and material possessions. He is looking for women with obedient hearts-- mothers who will welcome to their hearts the children whom God has planned to send them. He is looking for those who have the same spirit Mary had when she said, "Be it unto me according to thy Word." (Luke 1:38) She was totally surrendered to the will of the Lord. In the face of poverty, ridicule, rejection and estrangement, she embraced this child who would be the Savior of the world.

I will never forget going to the famous art gallery in London and seeing a painting of Mary. It was such an anointed picture. The artist had captured the look of total submission and abandonment to the will of God upon her face. It was amazing. I looked and looked at it for hours. The caption was the very words, "Be it unto me according to thy Word."

2. The humility of Joseph.

Joseph was a humble carpenter from a humble village. Do you remember that Nathanael said of Jesus, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46) Jesus was spurned by his fellow residents of Nazareth who asked, "Is not this the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55)

3. The humility of His birthplace.

Jesus was born in a stable, most probably a cave, with the dirt, the smells and messes of the animals all around. He was then laid in a stone feeding trough, fit only for the animals. Jesus was born to be King, but God didn't provide a palace for His Son in which to be born. He didn't provide a doctor, nurses and hospital. There was no cradle, beautifully draped with lace and frills. Only straw! Was there even that? No Christmas card paints the true reality of the scene.

If this was the beginning of the Son of God, why do we, the sons and daughters of God, expect that we should have all the niceties of life? Of course, if God blesses us with them, we will receive them with joy, but should we expect them? Everything surrounding the birth of Jesus was humble. It is interesting that in the body of Christ we have the "Faith movement" and the "Discipleship movement" and so on. But has anyone ever heard of the "Humility movement"? We don't take to this aspect so well, do we? And yet this is how God planned for His beloved Son to be born. And this is how he lived all through His life. Shouldn't humility also be the hallmark of our Christian experience?

I think that God revealed His heart in the place He chose for His son to be born-the lowliest and humbles place possible. God loves the poor. He promises to raise up the poor. He watches over them. Even in the birth of His son, He related to the poorest of the poor.

It is also amazing to think that God chose to bring forth His beloved Son through the process of birth. He could have sent him down from Heaven on a chariot of fire! He could have sent a legion of angels to escort Him from the majesty of heaven. But no! He chose for His Son to be conceived and nurtured in a womb, to be born of a woman, the way that God planned for all human life to come into this world.

Surely this raises birth to a high estate. What a privilege to give birth and give life to children, the very same way that Jesus came into the world? How blessed we are as women.

4. The humility of Jesus' dedication.

After the days of a mother's purification, the parents took the baby to the temple to be dedicated. They had to bring a lamb to be sacrificed for the dedication. However, if they could not afford a lamb, they brought two turtle doves or young pigeons. (Leviticus 12:6-8) The account in Luke 2:23-24 tells us that Joseph and Mary brought doves or pigeons. They belonged to the poor class. They couldn't afford to bring a lamb. And yet God chose from the poorer class to bring forth the King of kings and Lord of lords.

We don't have to own our own home and have all the modern conveniences before we are ready to have a baby. All we have to have is willing and welcome hearts. God will always provide for the children He sends. The poor who have children are richer than the wealthy who reject children.

May God pour out His Spirit upon you at this very special season as you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah together as a family. May God keep all our hearts focused on the humility of His birth, rather than tinsel and toys.



"Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for leaving the glory of heaven to come to this earth. Thank you for humbling yourself to become a little baby. Thank you for being humiliated for me. Thank you that you came to die, and to die for my sin. How can I ever thank you adequately? But with all my being I worship and love you. Amen."


Zechariah 9:9 NAS, "Behold your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey"

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1 comment:

Brianna Heldt said...

Blaine thanks so much for sharing this! I too still feel "haunted" by so much of what I saw in Addis and I still don't know what to do about it.

(I also LOVE go there all the time!)