Preparations — As December has begun, many Christians all over the world are “preparing” for Christmas. Sometimes that has to do with deciding how to have the “family get-together” or buying or making gifts, sending cards, etc. But is that what we should really be “preparing” for? I admit to doing and liking all these things, and yes, it’s nice to have family traditions, but the first part of Christmas is “Christ” and as a Christian…well, there you go.
I have turned my Bible reading to the Gospel of Luke, as I usually do this time of year. There are many theories on when Christ was actually born (I actually wrote a paper on this topic in college…yikes, that was a long time ago!) , but the fact is, for various reasons, traditionally we have celebrated His birth in December. I have started a “Christmas” reading plan on YouVersion (great Bible app, BTW).
This week has included the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, and the story of how, after 400 years of silence, God revealed to Zacharias and Elizabeth the highly improbable birth (given their advanced years) of their son, who would be the first prophet that we read about in the Bible since Malachi. John the Baptist was sent to “Prepare the Way of the Lord” as foretold in Isaiah 40. This chapter also includes the story of the Angel Gabriel bringing news to Mary that God has chosen her to bear His Son…Jesus, who would be the Messiah foretold by the prophets, sent into the world to finally be that perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. It’s all about Preparations, in other words.
I had the occasion to sing with a quartet at my church last week, and the song we chose was “Breath of Heaven” by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant. The lyrics to this song are from Mary’s point of view, and to me, the song really brings the story to life. I try to imagine what it could have possibly been like to be Mary, receiving such revelation, in an era where the Jewish people had not had a prophet for 400 years, finding that her aged cousin Elizabeth would be the mother of John the Baptist, sent to Prepare the way for the Lord as the prophets foretold. And to then think that by a miracle she herself was carrying that child who would be the Messiah…how terrifying! She was betrothed but not yet married, in fact it was scandalous, but it was part of God’s plan, the Virgin Birth. We know from history that she was a young girl, and it is unimaginable to be so young and to be charged with such a great responsibility.
What must it have been like, to be the earthly parents of Jesus? Were Mary and Joseph overprotective of Him when He was a child? Did He fall and scrape His knees? Did He play with other children? The Bible does not tell us these things, but I wonder if Mary thought of this before He was born? After finding out that she was going to be the mother of Jesus, Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Luke records that during this visit, Mary sang a beautiful song to God.
I absolutely love Christmas music, so I have decided to try to bring the Christmas story to my blog in four posts, with highlights from my readings in the links (so you just have to click to read), and to include some Christmas Carols or songs that I find complement the reading. There are two famous “modern” songs that portray Mary’s story, “Breath of Heaven” by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant, and “Mary Did You Know” by Mark Lowry. Here are links to two videos of these songs that I particularly like: