Showing posts with label nativity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nativity. Show all posts

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Celebrating Christmas~Joseph

Matthew 1:19-21, 24-25
Because Joseph her [Mary] husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Joseph trusted the Lord.

As a child, I heard the story of Jesus' birth. We learned of the trek to Bethlehem, angels singing, shepherds visiting, and of course Mary giving birth to the baby Jesus. I imagined the animals surrounding the manger, the sheep baaing and cows mooing. But I didn't give much thought to Joseph. In the story, he knocks on the inn keeper's door and he leads Mary to the stable. I knew he was present, yet he disappeared into the background.

What I've learned since:

Joseph was kind, compassionate, and faithful to God. He truly loved Mary. I'm not surprised by any of this. In God's plan to bring Jesus into the world, he chose two people who adored and trusted Him. Joseph and Mary's engagement, as binding as marriage is today, could only be broken by divorce. Rather than expose Mary as pregnant before wedlock, Joseph planned to quietly divorce her and set her free. Otherwise, she could have been stoned to death for adultery.

Thank goodness the angel gave Joseph the low down on God's plan. On hearing the angel's words, he could have run the other way. Joseph could have laughed in the angel's face. Instead, he chose to trust God's plan. His faith overcame his fear.

This year the holidays don't seem the same. Some traditions may not happen. Gatherings may look different. Illness may hamper plans. The sadness and stress of 2020 may drag us down. Yet as we celebrate Jesus' birth, let's delight in the Lord with faith like Joseph. He tossed his fears aside and trusted in God. If Joseph could do that in his circumstance, surely we can too.

I pray as we head into the Christmas season, we consider Joseph's faith and his trust in God.

Click to tweet: Faith like Joseph 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Blessings: Love

John 3:16 
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The winter solstice, observed years before Christmas was a holiday, celebrated the end of the harvest and the beginning of the dark season of winter. The people of the time worshiped the sun. When the sun shined less hours in the winter, folks wanted to do something to brighten the darkness. In many countries they set a log on fire and kept it burning for at least three days. This log became the Yule log, their way to bring light to the dark. Even those who didn't believe in Jesus sought after light in the darkness.

By AD 350, we know that Christians chose to celebrate Jesus birth near the same time as the winter solstice. Why would they do this instead of in the spring when Jesus was most likely born? They knew that Jesus light of love needed to come into the cold, dark season. While the pagans ate and drank together and worshiped the sun, believers chose to worship the son of God—Jesus—and shine his light. What better way to celebrate the Prince of Peace, than by recognizing him as the light who shines in darkness, the love who came to change the world.
I'm thankful that the Romans in AD 354 chose to celebrate Jesus birth. He came to earth to bring the light of love. A love that will last through eternity.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Christmas Traditions Around the World: Italy's Presepe Napoletano

This year in my "Forever Friends" college circle we exchanged ornaments. My dear friend, Thora Jo chose a gorgeous wooden and gold star shape with a nativity in the center for me. I love it; because it's beautiful, because a dear friend chose it for me, and because Jesus is the focus. 

Way back in the 1220s, St. Francis of Assisi traveled to Bethlehem to visit the cave where it is believed Jesus was born. Back home, he was inspired to create his own nativity scene in a cave. Using a crib and candles, he put together a site for people to visit and worship. Setting up a crib for baby Jesus caught on and spread through Italy and other parts of Europe.

Naples, Italy is well known for crib making or Presepe Napoletano. In Naples, cribs are traditionally set out on December 8. On December 24, baby Jesus is placed in the crib.

I love the nativity sets and ornaments we display each year. I inherited Grammy's Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus and have a miniature set with Bethlehem in the background.

St. Francis started a beautiful tradition that reminds us why we celebrate Christmas!   

Cooper, James. “The History of Christmas Cards .” Why Christmas?, 2018,
Green, Jonathan. Christmas Miscellany: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Christmas. Skyhorse Publishing, 2017.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Christmas Blessings: Peace

Luke 2:13-14
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

As Eli and Ella Cate put my Fisher Price Nativity set together, I watched with great joy. They placed Mary and Joseph in the stable and gently laid baby Jesus in between them. Ella Cate found all the palm trees and lined them up, while Eli herded the sheep to the shepherds. As they were playing, my daughter, Sara, asked Eli if he would sing a song he'd learned for his great-grandfather's funeral. As he tinkered with the manger scene, his strong, young voice filled the room. "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." Wow, what a blessing to hear this almost nine-year old sing one of my favorite songs.
At Jesus birth the angels rejoiced with a song of peace. They glorified God and poured the favor of peace over the shepherds.
The Christmas season can get hectic. Too much to do, places to go. So many families are knee deep in sports and activities, while others are lonely, even sad. The holidays can be a difficult time for so many reasons. But it can also be a time filled with peace. Just knowing that Jesus birth changed the world and our options in life brings me calm and comfort. If it weren't for that sweet baby in the manger growing to be a man who gave his all for me, my life would be utter chaos. Instead I have peace in my heart, knowing my life is in God's hands.
I pray God's peace pours over you as you prepare to celebrate Jesus birth. May his arms be a place of rest and his feet a place of worship.