Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Here is an account of a day 21 years ago. It was a Sunday and Sandi and I had gotten up in the morning and got ourselves to church. Following church we returned home and searched the refrigerator for whatever left over food could be eaten before it went bad. As we ate we figured out what things on our “to-do” list could be completed before we were scheduled to attend a late afternoon youth picnic and pool party. This was a typical Sunday afternoon for Sandi and me. We needed to get things in order around our home and prepare ourselves for the coming week of work. I had just started work for a new firm selling steel and Sandi was getting ready for a new week of excitement at Central DuPage Hospital. At 5:00 p.m. we both attended the youth group picnic and returned home shortly after 7:00 p.m. I made my way to a comfortable position in front of the TV, Sandi retreated to another room. Just before 8:00 p.m. she came down to where I was sitting and proclaimed it was time to go to the hospital. Several hours later Benjamin Alan Gifford entered into this world. We received a gift of life and a reason to rejoice over the blessings of God.
We now have entered the Advent season. Advent is a time to prepare and a time to get ready, but for what are we getting ready? Are we working through a list of things to buy for the people we care about? Are we stepping out of our comfort zone and perhaps ringing a Salvation Army bell in front of a local store? Are we hanging lights and cutting down a Christmas tree to decorate our homes? Well the answer to these questions is most likely yes, but they are not the only thing we are preparing for.
We are getting ready for the return of Jesus the Christ, a return that brings Jesus to us not as a helpless child but rather as a Savior.
That evening in June of 1995 was an evening we had prepared for. We had bought new furniture and decorated a room in our home with cute neutral colors. A few days after that night we came home with a new gift full of joy but relatively uneventful. God had blessed us and changed our life with the birth of Ben but the true gift found in this season is Christ Jesus who came into the world after walking days to Joseph’s home town for the census. They were unmarried, which would have made registration interesting. No one could house them; there was no midwife, doctor, hospital with birthing room, no special table or monitoring systems. It was simple and humble without bells or lights, but just as God wished, forever changing the world and all of humanity. God sent his one and only Son not to condemn the world but instead to save the world.
Peace this Christmas Season, Pastor Andy