Blog #45- Finding Merry In The Pandemic
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
That verse always reminds me of my boys singing proudly in our family room. That was over a decade ago, but it still brings warm, fond memories to my mind. Now they are teenagers and we are void of cute songs being sung in earnest.
Today is December 24th and my husband asked them to grab their Bibles and read the Christmas story. I wish I could say they leapt off the couch in eager obedience, but they didn’t.
Have I mentioned they are teenagers now?
“I already know the Christmas story,” quipped my younger son.
In an effort to prevent this morning devotional time from turning into something ugly and forced, I tried to soften the moment.
“Boys,” I began, “you can read something you already know in the Bible and discover something fresh and new.”
My husband and I suggested we all read the story and then share whatever stood out to us. They did, at that point, roll off the couch and trudge to the place where their Bibles sit neatly on the shelf. I joined them at the table, opened to Luke 2, and suddenly found myself saying the same thing in my mind.
I know this story. What could I possibly get that is fresh and new?
For obvious reasons, I kept my thoughts to myself and chose to pray. I asked God to show me something new in this very familiar story.
I stopped at verse 7. Immediately I started singing the song that my boys had sung so many years ago, picturing their precious hand motions.
She wapped him up in swaddlin’ clothes…
I kept reading the verse over and over, smiling at the memory and then suddenly I noticed something.
As bookends to the swaddlin’ clothes, there were two very different statements. She gave birth to her firstborn son and there was no place for them in the inn. It struck me how the inn was written as an afterthought. It was at the end of the sentence and no detail was given to describe it. It was as if Luke didn’t want too much attention given to it. It was part of the story, but it was only included as a fragment of one sentence.
I realized how often I flip verse 7 around. I start with my struggles and end with Jesus as an afterthought. If I had been tasked with Luke’s job, I would have begun that sentence with more than a fragment of how Mary got the shaft. I would have elaborated on her being in labor and how frightened she must have been. I might have even thrown the inn keeper under the bus for not giving up his bed for her that night.
Too often I lead with my struggle and end with Jesus as an afterthought.
* * *
This Christmas is so different. It will just be the four of us. My immediate tribe of people. No extended family. No in-laws or cousins. No traveling and making yearly memories. We won’t be doing any of that. And it makes me sad.
But today I decided to lead with Jesus in my sentence. He is the reason we celebrate this season and He is enough. I am not going to lead with masks, social distancing and other hot button items that have divided our country, our families and our friends. I am not going to lead with all that I can’t do this Christmas. I am going to lead with Him. Here is how I would apply Luke 2:7 to my life today:
Because Jesus was born that night, I can celebrate today, even though the pandemic is still here.
Let’s make COVID-19 the fragment at the end of our sentences today and let’s open with Jesus.
Because of Jesus, Christmas will always be merry.
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