Friday, December 24, 2010

The Animals Were Singing.......

What’s the big deal about Christmas? Why do we celebrate the birth of someone who died over 2000 years ago? Why does everything in the whole world have to come to a stand still to remember and celebrate this day? The interesting thing about it all is this – his birth wasn’t really celebrated. His birth sure didn’t appear on the national dailies of his days. Was it to happen in today’s world, you can bet it will be on facebook, twitter and other social media. But not then. There were no fun fares. No fire works. No special team of Doctors ready to help with the delivery. It was an ordinary day. Were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold. The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor. A more lowly place of birth could not exist.

Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor, perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him—so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.

Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event still puzzles him. But he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes, he remembers the name the angel told him to use . . . Jesus. "We will call him Jesus."

Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel, “His kingdom will never end.”

Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.

Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking. Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?

The circumstances surrounding his birth however did not diminish the concept. A king was born. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6). In our world today, people are often remembered for the problems they solve. Of course, we know some people because of the problem they created (remember Osama Bin Laden?). However, they are not often remembered for long, neither are they celebrated. Solving problems is one of the ways that one can be remembered for a long time to come. Faraday is often remembered today for solving the world’s electricity problems. Jesus, the reason for the season today, solved the greatest of man’s problem – SIN

When God created the world, everything in it was good. There was no problem at all, until sin came in. The fall of man when he sinned exposed him to all kinds of things imaginable. Sickness came, Poverty got hold of him. Death overpowered him. Fear gripped him. Man entered into the “crisis” mode as a result of SIN. Sin is a sinker my dear readers. It sank the destiny of man, and still does till date. The greatest hindrance to enjoying a good life is Sin, and Jesus came to solve that problem. By hanging on the cross, he paid the debt he didn’t owe; all because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay! Celebrating Christmas without understanding this is just like celebrating a mass. Christ is what makes an ordinary mass become Christmas.

As you celebrate Christmas today, ponder on these things. Ponder on the greatest love story ever told – the story of a man who laid down his life for his friends.

Merry Christmas to you all.