Christmas is absolutely my favorite time of year, despite the cold (I really have a strong aversion to the cold!). There is just something wonderful about Christmastime! From the pretty lights that brighten the neighborhoods and towns making me feel all warm inside to the Christmas music echoing everywhere I go that brings feelings of nostalgia. I love all the movies, new and classics alike that occupy much of the airtime on T.V. while in homes around the world, yummy, decorative cookies are being baked…mmmmm they smell good, don’t they? And families are making plans to gather together to carry on with favorite traditions. It truly is a magical time of the year where the impossible seems possible doesn’t it?
But for some, Christmas can be a challenging time of year. Maybe memories aren’t so nostalgic, or you’ll be missing a loved one this year and all the celebrations only exacerbate the sorrow you feel. During a season that is filled with Joy to the World, joy can seem alien, hope, foreign. The impossible seeming possible? Not likely!
But I want to share with you a story of the impossible made possible. You may either be very familiar with it, heard it only briefly or maybe you’ve never heard it at all. Even if you’re familiar with this story, my hope is that it becomes new again, that you read it with fresh eyes and with the same anticipation you feel as Christmas morning approaches. Will you come along on this adventure with me? Back to a time when the impossible truly happened? Can you imagine being a young woman, very young, engaged and about to be married and visited by an angel? I think I may be rendered speechless if an angel ever appeared to me but that is exactly what happened to Mary. Come there with me!
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth to Mary who was a virgin. “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” But Mary was greatly troubled at his words, but Gabriel told her, “Do not be afraid. Mary you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord’s servant.” Was Mary’s answer.
Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, who was called her husband as their betrothal was as binding as a marriage, learned Mary was with child but because he was a righteous man and didn’t want to expose her to public disgrace, had in mind to divorce her quietly. But an angel appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means “God with us.”
Joseph did as the angel said but had no union with her until she gave birth. It was during her pregnancy they had to travel to Joseph’s home town of Bethlehem to register for the Census. The town was overflowing with out-of-towners all there for the same reason as Joseph, making finding a room impossible, but one innkeeper offered his stables for them to stay. It was there, among the animals and all they entail, with only Joseph to assist, Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in the manger. Jesus, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, born among the animals, was laid on a bed of hay with his young mother and Joseph to care for him.
Nearby in a field, some shepherds, the lowest of the lowly, the unwanted and unclean, watched their flocks by night when an angel of the Lord appeared to them in the sky and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried through the streets until they found Mary, Joseph and the baby exactly as the angel told. After seeing the baby, the shepherds went back out into the streets telling everyone what the angel had told them regarding the baby in the manger and all who heard it were amazed at what they said.
Magi, men from the east who studied the stars, they, recognizing a significance in a brilliant new star that appeared in the night sky, followed it. Arriving in Jerusalem, they inquired of the people there, “Where is the one who has been born king of Jews? We have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him.” King Herod caught wind of this and asked his chief priests and teachers of the law where the Christ was to be born. When Herod heard their reply, “In Bethlehem in Judea, for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”, he called the magi to him and told them to find the child then report back to him so he could go and worship also.
The magi set out on their way following the star until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they found Jesus, they bowed down and worshipped him. They opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, (King Herod had in mind to find the child and kill him) the magi returned to their country by a different route and an angel came to Joseph in a dream warning him to flee to Egypt.
So many impossibilities! A virgin pregnant? Impossible. A man taking his pregnant-not with his child but with God’s child-fiancé despite the difficulties that was sure to come their way due to the nature of her pregnancy? Impossible. A King born in a stable with the dirty, smelly animals? Impossible. The lowest of the low, shepherds, being visited by the angel of the Lord and being the first people to hear the proclamation of the birth of the savior? Impossible. A new star leading wise men to worship Jesus and then being warned in a dream to not tell Herod? Impossible. And finally, but certainly not any less significant, God, stepping down from His throne, being born, coming to us in human form to offer His creation salvation and right our relationship with Him by going to the cross? Impossible. So very many impossibilities it could have only been done by God, not man. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37 NKJV Our God is a God of the impossible!
So this Christmas, remember how hope came to us all-no matter our social status, race, creed or background-as a tiny baby boy, born in a stable for our salvation! Impossible? Not with God!
My Christmas hope for you is that you find Jesus in your manger of impossible. And like Mary and Joseph, the innkeeper, the shepherds and the Magi that you would make room in your heart for the impossible, treasuring each moment along the way.
Peace, blessings and Merry Christmas to you all!
*The Christmas story was derived from Scripture. Some of the story was paraphrased but never altered! Some is directly quoted from scripture (NIV). Please read these stories on your own! You will find them in; Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2: 1-20; Matthew 2:1-12