HOPE FOR THE TOUGH TIMES
There is one word which describes the night He came: ordinary.
The sky was ordinary. An occasional gust stirred the leaves and chilled the air. The stars were diamonds sparkling on black velvet. Fleets of clouds floated in front of the moon. It was a beautiful night – a night worth peeking out your bedroom window to admire – but not really an unusual one. No reason to expect a surprise. Nothing to keep a person awake. An ordinary night with an ordinary sky. The sheep were ordinary. Some fat. Some scrawny. Some with barrel bellies. Some with twig legs. Common animals. No fleece made of gold. No history makers. No blue-ribbon winners. They were simply sheep, lumpy, sleeping silhouettes on a hillside.
And the shepherds. Peasants they were. Probably wearing all the clothes they owned. Smelling like sheep and looking just as woolly. They were conscientious, willing to spend the night with their flocks. But you won't find their staffs in a museum nor their writings in a library. No one asked their opinion on social justice or the application of the Torah. They were nameless and simple.
An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And were it not for a God who loves to hook an "extra" on the front of the ordinary, the night would have gone unnoticed. The sheep would have been forgotten, and the shepherds would have slept the night away. But God dances amidst the common. And that night he did a waltz. The black sky exploded with brightness. Trees which had been shadows jumped into clarity. Sheep which had been silent became a chorus of curiosity. One minute the shepherd was sound asleep, the next he was rubbing his eyes and staring into the face of a miracle.
The night was ordinary no more.
The angel said to them: Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy
which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior;
who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you:
You will find a babe wrapped is swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
God's Christmas gift to us has three qualities which make it unique.
First, it is the most expensive gift we will ever receive. It is priceless.
Jesus paid for it with his life.
Second, it is the only gift we will ever receive which will last forever.
Finally, it is an extremely practical gift – one we will use every day for the rest of our lives.
Christmas is a time for celebration. For most of us the celebration will be different from other
years. Many will celebrate alone. The family gatherings and parties might not take place as in
other years. Life is different this year. But the story is the same. The manger still invites us.
The gifts God has given us have not changed. They are certainly worth celebrating.
Enjoy the celebration. And remember: God is with us.
God loves each one of us.
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