A Christmas Letter

Dec
2011
21

posted by on Christian Encouragement

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Our ministry doesn’t usually reach into the lives of those who live in relative ease and comfort. Our ministry has always been mostly to those who are weathering a season of loss. We are usually drawn to those who have been cast aside and rejected by those who could have acted differently; but didn’t. We have always tried to be an encouragement to those who’ve been set out in the cultural wilderness, making do with God’s grace and their own thrift and resourcefulness. Joanne and I have always lived that way, and those are the types of folks to whom we best relate. So, I noticed some things in this story from Luke 2, of the birth of Jesus which caught my attention. The story goes like this…
“Now Joseph went up from the city of Nazareth, to the city called Bethlehem (because he was of the lineage of David), to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. And while they were there, the day came for her to give birth. So she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloth, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now in the same country, there were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Baby wrapped in swaddling cloth, lying in a manger.” And suddenly; with this angel; there was a huge multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill toward men!” So, when the angels had gone away into heaven; the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”. Luke 2: 4-19

I’d like for us to notice that Mary and Joseph were not married at this point, but they were together, registering for the census in the place that Joseph was from. Now, the Bible makes it clear their relationship was pure at this point, but this was still not the way it should have been. Mary should have stayed with her parents until she and Joseph were married, and Mary should have registered for the census in the home of her parental family.

But that was impossible because Mary was rejected by those who should have loved and cared for her. The fact is, that because of the perceived circumstances of her pregnancy, Mary’s parents wanted nothing to do with Mary, or with this baby for that matter. Mary could not give birth to this child alone, so Mary had to be with Joseph. The point is, that God used a woman who had been rejected by those who could and should have acted better, to give birth to the Savior of the world.

Now, let’s take a look at whom the Angel of the Lord notified first, of this great news of the birth of the Savior. He notified a group of nomadic Bedouin shepherds. These guys were often disrespected and disdained by those who lived more comfortably in this culture. These guys lived a pretty rugged life, and they had to be thrifty and resourceful to survive in the situation of life they found themselves. But God was obviously mindful, respectful and honoring of their relatively humble and meager existence.

So God called upon these Bedouin individuals to come in to the city to see and worship His newborn Son. These Bedouins might have never been to the city before, but God knew these guys were not proud. God knew these guys would be willing to come to the cave or the tent where Jesus was born, because these guys were willing to go anywhere.

God also knew these Bedouin shepherds would be perfectly comfortable with the scene they found when they arrived to see this baby Jesus wrapped in rags and lying in a feeding trough with animals all around, because that was the way these poor and resourceful Bedouins birthed and cared for their own infant children. So these guys wouldn’t have needed to get over anything in this situation, they could simply be free to walk into the sights and smells of that situation and begin to worship and proclaim what the Lord had told them about this child. These shepherds didn’t have to get over themselves before they could participate in what God was doing.

So, here’s my point.
If you are feeling a little upside-down this Christmas. If there is simply not enough of the things you would like to have, to make your holiday special. I want you to know that God is mindful and respectful of your situation, however meager and difficult it might be right now. God totally knows this may not be the way you planned your life to go, but I want you to know that He absolutely has a plan for you and He will absolutely provide for you, for now and into the future…

I also want you to know, that God can use the experience you are gaining right now in His grace, to boldly enter into a crusty situation which might totally intimidate someone else, and begin to provide encouragement and truth, based upon the real-life experiences which God has brought you through in this rough season of your life…

God used the grace and character He built into the lives of Mary and Joseph through the rejection and difficulty they faced, to bring glory to Him. God used the humble and willing nature of the Bedouin shepherds to also bring glory to Him. We know that God will use the experience He is building in you as well, to bring glory to Him…

Our constant prayer is that God would do that. We know, if God can do that with us, He can do that with anyone. Those are our thoughts, we’d love to hear yours.

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    • Jeff Brown

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