Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Shepherds Left, Now What?

Contrary to popular story-telling, the only people present on the night of Jesus' birth were his immediate family and the shepherds. The wise men did not come that night, but some time later.  It would have been highly unlikely that Joseph would have travelled with a nearly-ready-to-give-birth wife without a mid-wife, so one may have come with them from Nazareth.  Other than that, Jesus' birth was a small, dirty, common happening.  After the miraculous arrival of the shepherds, the telling of their story, and their amazing praise service, Joseph, Mary, and the baby would have been left all alone.

It's like Christmas. Months of build-up, family, friends, activity, and then . . . what?  As I look across at the tree in our living room, it has no presents. The stockings have been emptied. The Christmas Eve service is over. I am preparing to preach the last "Christmas" themed message, wondering if our members will bring their families to church today, or if family will trump. The Shepherds have left, now what?

Now, Christ. Now, Jesus. The shepherds were amazed and the event was amazing, "But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)  She didn't know that she was supposed to have a tree, and decorations, and lights, and gifts, and feasts. She just had Jesus, and He was more othan enough. There was another Mary, whose sister was Martha. She didn't care about feasts, or festivities, or meals, just Jesus, and Jesus said that she "has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her." (Luke 10:42)  And, at the end of Jesus' life, there was just one disciple at his feet, John, the one who loved Jesus and who Jesus loved.  He and Jesus' mother were there, and Jesus entrusted them to each other.

Christmas is perhaps the most wonderful time of the year, unless you know and abide in Jesus. Then, the time of the year is not the issue. Post-Christmas-Depression is not an issue, because once everyone and everything has gone, your life continues. Your life continues because it has always been about Him. You have learned that the only way to celebrate the incarnation of God is to abide in Christ.  And, abiding is not about holidays. Abiding is about every day, every day, every moment a holy-day, a holy-moment, because it is spent in Christ.