Two Parents

When you think of the Nativity, what does your brain immediately jump to? For me, I think of my Grama’s porcelain Nativity figurine set. I am immersed in the memory of my little fingers helping Grama carefully place a stable, with Mary and Joseph, and Baby Jesus in a manger underneath. I remember the texture and feel of the porcelain, the shepherd boy, the wise men, the animals surrounding the couple and the Child they were entrusted with.

Nativity brings me back to that porcelain set and Christmas tradition with my Grama.

As is most Bible stories for me, I always seem to ponder the many facets of the people themselves. The people who lived and breathed and walked the story God laid bare for them.

Life is a bucket full of good and bad. Tremendous joy and overwhelming sadness. Honestly, I think Joseph and Mary knew this in spades. Not only did God choose Mary above all others to be the Mother of Jesus, God picked Joseph with intention. Without any qualms we are certain of Jesus’ parentage, however do we ever think about His parentage?

Mary. Oh, Mary, what can I type that would convey the pure Godly woman she was. That God would choose her. I can’t even begin to imagine the enormity of responsibility. Knowing who this baby was going to be. It is all very mind boggling. If you do research on the times, 2,000 years ago, it’s not very different from the current Muslim nations, where women can be treated as chattel. For Mary to be betrothed to marry Joseph and then become pregnant and be carrying the Savior in her womb, yeah, I’m thinking that was an ugly situation for her to be in. I wonder at the attitudes, words and brutality to her emotions she must have faced. An unmarried woman in those days, with the social customs, it must have been devastating.

And yet, she was chosen to carry out this other piece of the puzzle.

God knew who He was choosing. As always.

Then you dash over to Joseph, and honestly for years I’ve felt that Joseph just isn’t talked about enough. I want to know more, more about this man, in those days, that would trust and obey God when the angel appeared to him. That he would choose to marry her and be a dad to this child with a destiny so far reaching that 2,000 years later we’re still talking about and believing in the eternal Savior. I don’t think Joseph gets enough of a glance when we are perusing the Christmas story. What kind of man did God choose to be a dad for His son? We know that he was a carpenter, and that Jesus became one as well. We know that Joseph made a choice to stand by Mary. And oh the ridicule he must have had to bear with her pregnancy.

There are bits of Scripture that paint the picture of two parents that loved their son, and their children that came after Him. We can’t know what they must have felt for sure, however we can pay attention to their actions, their choices, and in doing so discover two parents. Two parents that were chosen, and who made a choice to follow where God lead no matter the cost.

I’ll see you all tomorrow for the last of my Christmas posts.

Merry Christmas Eve.

xo. Echo

Luke 1:26-56

26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David.The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”

34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?”

35 The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth

39 In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah 40 where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: “Blessed are you among women, and your child will be blessed! 43 How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me.45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!”

46 And Mary said:

My soul praises the greatness of the Lord,

47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 because he has looked with favor
on the humble condition of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
49 because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and his name is holy.
50 His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear him.
51He has done a mighty deed with his arm;
he has scattered the proud
because of the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has toppled the mighty from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he spoke to our ancestors.

56 And Mary stayed with her about three months; then she returned to her home.

Matthew 1:18-24

18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man,and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name him Immanuel,

which is translated “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus.

Shepherds & Sheep

I’ve been pondering, reading and then re-reading Luke 2:8-20, wondering about these shepherds in a dark field at night tending their flock. When all of a sudden an angel appeared and spoke, proclaiming the birth of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but for me, that would scare me enough to turn my hair white. To be going about my day, or night in this case, and boom – an angel is standing in front of me and speaking to me – just, woah.

To top off the moment of pure fright, like a cherry on top of a crazy whimsical cupcake, a whole slew of angels appeared and began singing praises to God. If you doubted your sanity with the first angel, what would you do when a whole flock of ’em appeared and began singing? I’d like to think I would have sprung from fear to delighted awe. I can vividly imagine how those shepherds standing around in the dark taking care of their sheep felt when all of this took place.

The angel told them how and where to find the baby, the newborn King. They found Him in a town overfull to the point of no room at the inn. That is super cool if you think about the intricacies of it all, every last piece of the grand story.

I think, when we read the Christmas story, we tend to gloss over the wonder, the delight, the reasoning and meaning behind a story that is so familiar. We float over the feelings, the people living this story. These shepherds were people, just like us. They felt it – the fear, the joy, the wonder!

While searching, I began to pour over articles about the historical context of the shepherds. Did you know that the shepherds would have been of the lower caste of society? I honestly didn’t know this, I’d never looked at or thought about it. But they were. It has been said, based on Old Testament prophecy and historical context that these particular shepherds could have been the ones caring for the sheep that were used for sacrifice in the temple.

Many times I’ve glossed over the story, until it became just that – the story. No less true, but a story that I’ve heard and read and sung about and been in plays about. I forgot about the people. How often do we forget about the people in the Bible? We read and re-read their stories glossing over the fact they were real people, just like us.

When I read about the societal standing of the shepherds, the sheep they may have been tending, the dark of night they received world changing news, the choir of angels singing praises to God, it all wrapped around my heart and opened my eyes. The gloss went away and I was left with how good God really is.

That He would reveal His Son to a low caste of society choosing them to be the first ones to lay eyes upon Jesus, outside of His parents, is just, so. . .God. He always takes the least of these, the black sheep as it were and selects the purposeful pieces of the story to be lived out by ordinary souls seeking a good good God.

See you tomorrow for another foray into the Christmas story. . .xo

Echo

Luke 2:8-20

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

12 Days of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Twelve drummers drummin’, eleven pipers pipin’, ten ladies dancin’
Nine lords a-leapin’, eight maids milkin’, seven swans a-swimmin’
Six geese a-layin’ five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens
Two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree

When I decided to do a series of posts counting down to Christmas it all began with the above song. In concert the song began to play on a loop in my poor brain, running through all the times I’ve heard it, the times I’ve seen it performed, the swift, fast, upbeat nature of the classic song.

After my brain went into Christmas song loop-ville, I began to dig online about the 12 days of Christmas. Did you know that 12 days of Christmas doesn’t actually begin until Christmas Day? Did you know it’s also called Christmastide, or Twelvetide? And it’s all about celebrating the birth of Jesus.

December 25th kicks it off and ushers you into the new year when the season ends on January 5th. That last night is called Twelfth Eve or my favorite, Epiphany Eve. It is 12 days of celebrations for Christmas, Boxing Day, Childermas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and then Epiphany Eve. Some countries don’t even give gifts until Epiphany Eve. Told you I love the name of this day. . .

I had no idea there was such a rich history filled with tradition and beauty. I always thought it was a gimmick begun by large shopping chains, and well, it still kind of is, but you look at the other side of the 12 days of Christmas and you find yourself in a whimsical celebration.

Looking into 12 days of Christmas, brought me back around to the other seasonal event, Advent. Do you know where the word Advent comes from?

I had no idea, but once I did I fell a bit more in love with the tradition.

Advent is brought to us from the Latin phrase, “Adventus Domini” which means: arrival of the Lord.

How can you not love a tradition that is encompassed in celebrating the birth of Jesus?

From the history, celebration, and tradition, down to the very lyrics of songs bring Christmas into beautiful stunning light and points us all towards the very reason for the season. Yes I did just use that common saying. It stays true, the reason we celebrate, the reason we steep ourselves in tradition and remember the history of the holiday surrounding us each December is and forever will be – Jesus.

Come along with me as I count us down to Christmas Day.

Until tomorrow, xo.

Echo

p.s. Go listen to Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters belt out the tune for 12 Days of Christmas, it’s pretty awesome. . .also, you’re welcome.