The Christmas season is always a challenge for me. I have so many different things going on in my life; husband, father, papaw, and pastor! Each of these perspectives on Dec. 25 have their pros and cons as most of us earthlings are aware.
This season had a real surprise and thrill as Sandy and I took some time away to go see a movie. We took a Sunday night and went to watch "The Nativity Story." I wasn't sure what to expect, it certainly wasn't hyped as much as "The Passion of The Christ" was but at the same time there had been some good publicity on how well done it was for a film with a "Christian" theme.
One of my "pastor" perspectives has always been the crazy time-line that has stuck to the Christmas story in regard to the wisemen. I do mean stuck, just try and rearrange the plot on that one some time and see how hard it is for most folks to understand the little "two year" pause between the birth of the child and the visit of the Magi!
This story treats this timeline as most folks would have it in their hearts. The wisemen are an integral part of the story and do show up right at the birth-----but I must say it was a wonderful depiction and really got you into the moment quite deeply.
I was thrilled with how the film got me to see the harshness of life at the time of this little one's entrance into humanity. The toughness of the times for families, and for Jews and for adventurers was very very well done. You certainly experienced it all. I was especially impressed with the portrayal of Joseph; he came alive to me.
The reality of Herod and his obsession with killing this coming king was horrifying. His evil intent came through in graphic detail. The death of little boys in Bethlehem exploded on the screen. The birth scenes in the movie were quite amazing and certainly didn't candy coat any of it! This was a real moment with real pain and real hardship.
For me, during this season of Advent, it took me to the center of the message of the Angel; "Do not be afraid!" Both Joseph and Mary were very real in their conversation about their angelic experiences. They both admitted that while the Angel said "Do not be afraid", they were afraid! Boy if that didn't hit home to me. They are just like me!
I honestly believe the "heavenly voice" but my reality has to be walked out in fearful faith. I am encouraged and motivated by the message, but I still tremble as I walk in this hard life. Although God worked powerfully in the life of Joseph and Mary, they still lived real lives with real problems. Our situations in December 2006 are the same!
My challenge to myself is to courageously go forward, not retreating out of fear, but constantly trusting that the same God who worked it out for Joseph and Mary will work it out for me! Wow, a God who would visit us this personally is to be adored! He really really cares! He traded a perfect pain free life for a life of flesh filled struggle. Thank you Jesus! I love you for getting dirty here on earth with me and showing me God, your father, in a truly real way I can understand.
Have a blessed, Christ filled Holy Day!