Sunday, December 09, 2018
Sunday Afternoon Tea - Ponderings from Luke Chapter One
Every Christmas season seems to have its' own... feeling. This year it has been one of making Beauty and deep reflections. Most of my decorations came out of their containers, only a few that are too special to give away but I didn't want to display this year remained in their tissue paper shawls.
I have enjoyed early mornings with the tree lit in the family room and going about my day with other rooms dressed in their festive finery. This year was definitely a season to sparkle. Even those days I spend alone or with only my husband (and Florentine) in the house. We not only need a little Christmas this year, we need a whole lot of what the season is all about.
Every Christmas season, I like to spend some time rereading the Christmas Story in the Gospel of Luke. You know, that same section which Linus recites in A Charlie Brown Christmas. The lovely amazing miracle story of the birth of a Savior. That part of Scripture which even the most ardent nonbeliever most likely has heard, especially if they like Charlie Brown.
So this past week, I picked up my large print Modern English Version Bible (a translation I'm loving) and as usual, started reading Luke 1:1. But something was different this year. I could not get past that first chapter.
My spiritual eyes were open to the events prior to the Nativity story as never before. Why had I not given them the attention they deserve? I think the Holy Spirit, who has a way of leading my ponderings, knew they were needed this year. At this time in the History of the world... including my own small part of it.
From that moment when Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, to Elizabeth's pregnancy far beyond the time such is normal, to Gabriel appearing to the teenage Mary and announcing she is "blessed among women" and will conceive a Son and call His name Jesus, to Elizabeth being filled with the Spirit of God and her baby leaped in her womb at Mary's visit... the events of the Nativity were being prepared.
What struck me when reading was how God did not send Gabriel to the kings of the earth but to regular people going about their daily life. Zechariah was where he was suppose to be that day as a priest of God. Young Mary and Elizabeth were most likely at home. None of them were expecting God's special messenger to appear before them and turn their world upside down.
Before the baby Jesus first cried as an infant in the stable, God was preparing the people involved for what was to come. Mostly in quiet places for even Zechariah was made to be quiet, even though his position at the Temple would otherwise assume great speeches would be given.
So much of the story of the birth of Christ takes place in small and hidden places. If I were in charge of bringing the Savior to the world, I would have announced it before the kings of the earth and the angels would have appeared in the sky for all the world to see.
God chose to do otherwise for He who created us knows that His people learn most in the quiet times of their days, when life appears to be on hold, when we seem so insignificant to our neighbors and perhaps our family but He knows otherwise.
Yes, God used a priest in the temple and that was not only appropriate but necessary but otherwise He entered the world of one older woman and the womb of a very young woman. Quietly.
Oh, He did make a heavenly announcement but only those who were looking for His sign would understand. The star in the sky which led the travelers from afar to worship the new king. The angels made quite an appearance before lowly shepherds in the field but it had to be that only their eyes were opened to the Heavenly choir as we have no indication anyone else in Bethlehem saw them.
I think Luke chapter one reminds us of the value of the seasons of life when nothing seems to be happening... the value of the people that the world would see as unimportant such as an older woman and a teenage girl and later lowly shepherds... how God loved using unlikely humans in the most important Story.
I had just spent time in this first chapter of Luke when I watched some of George H. W. Bush's funeral. I watched an interview with a long time friend of his who was asked about the importance of Bush's mother to his becoming the person he was. The friend said he was always talking about what his mother taught him even though he respected his father, a U. S. Senator, very much.
The friend said that his mother, an evangelical Episcopalian who knew Francis Schaeffer (I would have liked her!), was the most significant person who shaped his character. This woman who was in the background of a famous husband and son... affected the world by her role as mother and homemaker.
Each of us was created for "such a time as this", whatever day and month and year in the history of the world we made our appearance. We were not an accident. God placed us in our family, in this time, with certain gifts and talents on purpose.
I don't think any person knows the affect they have had on the world until they stand before God. I'm convinced every one of us will be surprised at how much the unseen days and events will have affected eternity.
So this week, I will finally make it to Chapter Two of the Book of Luke. To those familiar words, "In those days a decree was sent out from Caesar Augustus that the entire inhabited earth should be taxed". However, I will look at the second chapter differently now that I have pondered chapter one.
Mentioned in this Blog Post
MEV Large Print Personal Size Bible Cherry Brown... here.
A Charlie Brown Christmas DVD... here.
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