Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a [manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
This year I was so excited and yes, a little proud of myself,when I was able to get our Christmas photo card and newsletter sent out shortly after Thanksgiving. What a relief it was to have that task marked off my “to do” list.
A few days later our family found our Christmas boxes, and set up our home for our first Christmas season in Oregon. The tree went up, the lights went on, and I sat down to enjoy the beauty of it all. As I relaxed with a cup of hot tea, I decided to read through our already sent out letter once again. As I read the first paragraph my stomach tightened and I could feel my blood pressure rise as I caught a very major error. It wasn’t a mistake having to do with our children’s names or ages, nor of our new address being misprinted. No – it was the mixing up of the Christmas Story! Once again pride reared it’s head as I chided myself for my mistake of replacing the wise men following the star to worship Jesus, with the shepherds following the star. Then I became upset with my pastor husband, who also had proofed it and not caught my re-working of the Christmas story. When I read out loud what I had sent out to our close family, friends (which include several of my former AFLBS professors), and churches we have served, my reaction was to cry and my husband‘s was to laugh. Soon his laughter conquered my tears and I saw my anguish for what it was.
What was it? The wrong priority for sharing a greeting with friends and family I was in such a hurry to have my Christmas list completed that I had neglected the most important, and truly the only real reason to celebrate Christmas. I had skipped over the verse I had chosen to head our letter and had given an improper application, all in haste to get to the “good” stuff – what was new with us and ours. What a lesson; one that I will not soon forget. The proof-reading for accurately sharing the great message of the Christ Child come to earth had taken second seat to our family’s comings and goings.
Please join me this Christmas to slow down. To slow down, stop, and ponder the life of the One who came to give us life that we may live. The gift of Jesus is a priceless gift to us as individual sinners in need of a savior! The answer to our salvation need was wrapped up in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger that first Christmas. He came in God’s perfect plan and time. May we never be in such a hurry that we forget the precious gift given to you and me.