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December 13, 2013

Verna Davis; May we celebrate this Christmas season the way God wants us to

TERRE HAUTE — Most people are familiar with Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 2:1-23. These passages give us the details of Jesus’ birth. There was a pesky little taxation decree for the entire Roman world. Not yet “officially” married, Joseph and a very pregnant Mary made their way to Bethlehem, and when no room could be found, they booked a smelly stable with plenty of “fresh” air. Angels appeared to shepherds who then rushed to see Baby Jesus in the manger.

Matthew’s account picks up where Luke left off. The star appeared to the wise men, and they followed it to where Jesus was. They stopped off in Jerusalem to ask King Herod about the King of the Jews. Herod, a rather jealous fellow, asked about that star. He tried to appear curious when he was actually furious, and wise guys wisely left Herod in a murderous dither. They continued following the star so they could present their presents to Jesus.

Wasn’t that a strange way to save the world? But wouldn’t it have been stranger if someone else besides God had done the planning for that First Noel?

For instance, the census taking would have been a lot easier and faster if the Romans had sent the census forms in the mail — with an official SASE for the completed form. Mary and Joseph could have stayed in Nazareth and finished making their wedding plans, even if the Nazarite housewives would have clicked their tongues every time Mary stepped out for bread and milk. Jesus would have been born in the same place Mary and Joseph had been born and raised, close to both sets of grandparents. As it was, Jesus was about two years old before either set of grandparents got to meet him.

Someone should have told Joseph about call-ahead seating ... er ... I mean call-ahead sleeping. I mean, a little advance notice of their arrival accompanied by a small deposit would have held a first floor double so that Jesus would have a warm, dry bed in which to sleep away his first night. That way, when the shepherds came to see Baby Jesus, they would have been the first group to go Christmas caroling!

The angels might have kept the information about Jesus’ birth under wraps long enough to plan a way to charge for admission for their first ever angelic concert. And if the wise guys had brought their wives along for an expense-paid vacation, there would have been no need for that star — we know those wise wives would have asked for directions along the way, making sure they arrived in Bethlehem in time to help Mary deliver the baby and give Jesus practical gifts like diapers, receiving blankets and cute little onesies.

Thankfully, that was not God’s way of doing things. I don’t know about you, but I like God’s way better. May we celebrate this Christmas season the way God wants us to — with wonder and gifts and worship and singing the angels’ song: “Glory to God in the highest.”

And God will be pleased.

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