News of Great Joy!
The second candle is lit on this second Sunday in Advent. The second candle often represents the themes of Peace, Preparation, Patience or Acceptance. As Elizabeth and Zechariah came to accept that they would have a son whose name would be called John and who would prepare the way of the coming Lord; and as Mary accepted that she was the handmaid of God and would bear his Holy son Jesus - God come to earth in person, so we too come to accept the gift of God's only Son who came to save us from our sins and lead us to life eternal with God.
When you think of the Christmas story, how does the story go in your mind?
A couple of years ago, I went back to the Christmas story as found in Matthew and Luke. I read with a fresh eye, trying to read them as if I'd never read them before. I tried to keep the mythology and tradition that has grown up around the stories at bay, to read it without the hype and folklore that has been added over the years.
Though familiar with the story and the scriptures from my youth, I was shocked to find that many of the things I took for granted about the story of the birth of Jesus were never mentioned, that they were things that have been added or surmised by humankind over the years since.
There is nothing in the scriptures of Mary riding a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. There is nothing said of a frantic search for a place to stay. There is nothing about a stable full of animals. There is nothing said of the shepherds seeing the star over Bethlehem or of angels singing, or even of the wise men coming to see the newborn Jesus where he was laid in the manger (though they did come to see him when he was somewhat older and the family was living in a house in Bethlehem). Yet in our minds, these things are all part of the Christmas story.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed [legally pledged to be married] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, be a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people form their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” [Isaiah 7:14] (which means, God with us).
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Matthew 1: 18-24
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Luke 2: 1-21
What we learn of Jesus from these two short passages of scripture is profound.
- Jesus was born to save us from our sins. (Sin is that which separates us from God.)
- Jesus is God with us.
- Jesus was born a savior, he is Christ the Lord.
- This is news of great joy!
- The birth of Jesus is a gift for all people.
News of Great Joy indeed!
The winner of the First Advent Pincushion is
Sherry in Little Rock!
Lisa, your words and your work are both lovely and inspiring! I enjoy your blog so much and look forward to every post and picture. I'm wishing you every blessing during this Christmas season!
Thank you Sherry! Please let me know your address so I can mail the pincushion to you! (there is a link in the sidebar that says, "Send a Note" which has my e-mail address in it!)
When I was creating this week's pincushion, I was struck with the thought of the angels sharing this news of great joy and with how the glory of the Lord surrounded the shepherds. One of the seams is somewhat reminiscent of angels and I added a small beaded angel and several stars. It was a lot of fun to go through the Christmas decorations and find angels from both my and my mother's collections to use in the photos!
To enter a drawing for this week's pincushion, please leave a comment on this post! I have enabled commenting as an anonymous user, but please be sure to leave your name in the comment box so I know who the comment is from! Please note that comment moderation is turned on for all posts older than 10 days, so if you leave a comment on an older post, you will not see it until I have approved it. That can take a few days with my work schedule!
This past week, my son Stephen helped me put lights up around the house! I love the way they look! So nice to have sons who are capable of climbing up and down ladders as I am not at all comfortable on them! Today my daughter is here making jelly and baking cookies! A joy to have her here!