Have you ever wondered how God would have you spend Christmas Day and what He would have you think of about the events surrounding Jesus’ birth
There are two questions here, so let me address the first one first. How would God have you spend Christmas Day? Perhaps like any other day or maybe differently? Many countries do not acknowledge Christmas Day as a public holiday. We are very fortunate that in South Africa, Christmas Day is a public holiday. This means there are less restrictions placed on us. Even though we are in level 1 lockdown and even though our Province (Gauteng) is a Covid hotspot, as long as we practice Covid Protocol and behaviour responsibly, we are able to gather together.
This is how we spent today (Christmas Day). The day started at 4.30am with devotions and getting ready for church. I preached in Benoni at 8am. It was a lovely gathering with lots of children. We had friends from Pretoria come through and worship with us. We sang great carols and fellowshipped in and around the Word. The congregation was very loving and warm. After the service we went to the church warden’s house where we had fellowship with folk we have not seen since before lockdown. The fellowship was sweet, and whether the whole group was involved or two or three people chatted, the conversation was generally around God and His Word.
We returned to Pretoria in time for a three-way Zoom session at 6pm with our children and grandchildren in Chicago and Fremont (Nebraska). Then we called a few people and responded to a few WhatsApp messages. All of these things brought great comfort and joy to our hearts. Apart from intimacy with our God, there is nothing better than being around God’s Word with God’s people. The spiritual vibe experienced is a small taste of what Glory will be like. Be it Christmas Day or any other day when God’s People gather, it pleases God when the fellowship is Christ-focused and Bible-based. Some people prefer to spend such a day alone and there is nothing wrong with that, though the general idea in Scripture is togetherness.
Heb 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Even within the restraints of Covid … God encourages us to meet together, and one of the purposes is to encourage each other. Encouragement could take many shapes, but the center of Christian encouragement is Jesus! One can never exhaust talking about our Saviour, nor can we exhaust the depths of His Word.
The second question relates to how God would have you think about the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Remember, when she became pregnant she was a young girl around 12 to 14 years old. She was a virgin and was informed by Angel Gabriel that she would be carrying a child who would be Christ the Lord. There was the momentary problem with Joseph, which the same Angel sorted out. Then there was the visit to Elizabeth, who herself was pregnant in her old age. Then came the birth followed by the visits of the Magi and Shepherds. Now couple this with all the personal emotions and feelings … especially:
Luke 1:28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 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.”
As pure and godly as she was and as highly favoured by God as she was … there was far more to these events than was recorded in the Bible … “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”. The concept of “treasured up” must surely include the idea of storing up … collecting and remembering all that happened. Because of the storage of this information, she could ponder … thinking through and meditating upon each bit of material.
In a nutshell, her pregnancy would be a miracle conception by the Holy Spirit. The one to be born would be none other than the Son of God. Even in a limited manner, Mary must have realized that the one to be born from her womb … in the blood line of David and called “Jesus” which means God saves … must be Messiah, for who else will reign a kingdom that will never end? These are the things she thought about, pondered upon and meditated on.
A few days ago, a 10 year old girl whose parents are divorced and who grew up with her mom (who is a devout Christian) asked her stepfather about God and Jesus. If God is God, who is Jesus? How can Jesus be God? Having grown up in a Christian home, she thought about what obviously comes from her blood father. At 10, she thought and arrived at reasonable clarity before asking and receiving an answer from stepdad. This is what Mary was doing …“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”. We need to do this too. God will have us think through all the stages of the incarnation and the reason for the incarnation … establishing clarity in our hearts as to what we can understand, what makes sense and as to what questions we need answers for.
Dear God, thank You for coming into our world to save and transform. Help me to spend my special days with Your people, around Your Word. Father, graciously provide clarity about the questions I have regarding the happenings around the incarnation and virgin birth so that opposition voices can be stilled and banished. Kindly help me to enjoy such clarity about these matters that I might help others to grasp these Divine Truths. Amen.