It seems like everyone has big hopes at Christmas. About getting that amazing present. About glittering holiday events. About making special memories with family. But there are all these outcomes you can’t control, and sometimes everyday life falls so far short of what you had hoped. Seems like Mary might have known something about that, finding herself on the road when her first Baby arrived, instead of back home surrounded by women who knew what to do in these situations.
And I wonder if she even realized how close her time was, as a young girl who had never gone through this before…. or if the Baby made it to full-term at all, considering the stress of the journey. We don’t know the personal details of Mary’s story, but we can certainly appreciate her circumstances, when the pains began and there was no place to rest, and sometimes there is nothing else to do but hang on and get through it the best you can. When you are hoping for something good with all your heart, receiving the unexpected and difficult can send you reeling– feels like a slap in the face. But this is the beauty of unexpected gifts at Christmas, that God’s grace is bigger than all our hopes and fears, and He is thinking far beyond our moment’s comfort, painting His glory in the night sky for shepherds and kings and camels to witness.
Whatever we are hoping for this Christmas season, there is this certainty, that we are no longer alone. Because God has come down to be with us in all our outcomes, and we cannot even dream of what will happen next. However things turn out in our days, we have the promise that never fails: “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) The Musician-King knew it all along, and set it to music, “You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” ( Psalm 16:11) However big our hopes, God’s plans are bigger, and in the end we will not be disappointed. The prophet wrote down what He said, centuries before He arrived in a stable: “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts'” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
So we set the star at the top of the tree and light the candles;place the nativity figures around the creche and read the old old story yet again; and let Hope shine out into all the dark places.
Can’t go back to the beginning,Here Again, Elevation Worship
Can’t control what tomorrow will bring,
But I know here in the middle
Is the place where You promise to be.
I’m not enough unless You come;
Will You meet me here again?
‘Cause all I want is all You are;
Will You meet me here again?
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.Ephesians 3:20