A sense of wonder goes a long way in enjoying winter, or any season. Each presents its wonders, whether in the natural world, or in those simple kindnesses and benefits of everyday. For example, consider the simple wonder stirred when you observe an attentive spring robin caring for its young, or the visiting sparrow alighting on your snow-covered window sill and tilting its head as though checking up on you, brightening your day.
Reflect on the store clerk who, although it’s nearing closing time, pleasantly greets you, despite the long weary customer lines and snarly characters she’s dealt with during her hours on the job. That’s also wonderful. Or, when you are away from home and a thoughtful neighbour picks up your emptied garbage bin that’s rolling across the road, driven by brisk winds. When we perform simple acts of kindness we may spark wonder in someone else’s life.
I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt as that first Christmas drew near. We don’t know for sure that Mary actually rode on a donkey. The Bible doesn’t say; she may have been on foot. They’d trodden a rugged road from Nazareth to Bethlehem, braved possible danger from bandits, and an uphill gradient in places made for a tedious climb. Feel Joseph’s dismay when told that there was no room in the inn for him and Mary, who was at the point of giving birth. Imagine his relief when the humble animal shelter was offered as an option.
[Pic Courtesy PrintShop]
And now, twenty centuries later, millions still share a great sense of wonder at that humble couple’s journey, their makeshift lodgings and the birth of the baby, God’s Gift from heaven. A virgin gives birth to the Christ Child – the rightful king of Israel and Saviour of the world – in such humble surroundings. She lays Him in a straw-filled manger. The Holy Family is often pictured with a cow and a donkey or two, while a pair of doves perched above, watches over them. The addition of wondering, worshiping shepherds, accompanied by sheep and a lamb, enhances the poignancy and sense of wonder.
But why? Because this birth disrupts all expectation. Baby kings are born in palaces (or nowadays in the best hospitals) and raised in luxury. This Child is not only a human descendent of Israel’s King David; He is the Divine Son of God, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. Grace inspires wonder, especially when greatness demonstrates deep humility.
That’s what we see here. In order to accomplish Redemption for us, Jesus would live a perfect, sinless life, and die a horrific death as the ultimate sacrificial victim, in behalf of the world He created. He is the Child born to die – “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The innkeeper’s position is understandable, for he had “No Vacancy.” We might have experienced that ourselves, when looking for a room for a night on our travels. Joseph’s family was from Bethlehem. In considering the hospitality culture of their day, it seems surprising that he didn’t find temporary accommodation among extended family.
Jesus, in His humble birth, partook of our poverty; in His death He suffered rejection. The continuing wonder of Advent and Christmas for me is that Christ still comes into the lives of all who make room for Him. Let us not turn Him away, to suffer rejection yet again.
The above article was published in P-Pep! column in The Watford Guide Advocate, Dec. 18, 2014.
Now out: Raise Your Gaze – Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart collection of 52 articles from P-Pep! column, sprinkled with Words to Bless. Inspirational; some biographical. 190 pp. ISBN: 978-0-9920074-2-3
Now in ebook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QH1KZ3IPaperback Available from the author, see Contact form. Author Price: $17 + $5 S/H (Canadian addresses). Angel Hope Publishing: Angelhopepublishing@glynisbelec.com ; www.glynisbelec.com Amazon.com ; Amazon.ca
What readers are saying about the book Raise Your Gaze . . . :
I want to tell you my wife is reading Raise your Gaze and calls it wonderful. One story she enjoyed most was about Lincoln Alexander. She knew him personally. . . . It’s a beautiful book. (D. R.)
D.R. also wrote: “I found it hard to put down. The word images are fascinating, the ideas inspiring and the stories often amusing. . .”
Your book was such a blessing to me, I want to read it again, to gain more from it. (D. M.)
I enjoyed your book very much and believe that God can use it . . . (W. B.)
Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children’s / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing. 39 stories, 232 pp, b/w illustrations. Finalist – Word Alive Press. ISBN: 1897373-21-X. List price $15.99. Available through bookstores, the author and at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca
Author Price: $14 + $5 S/H (Canadian addresses).
The book has found a place in various settings with a readership ranging from kids to senior adults. His inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Guide-Advocate (of Southwestern Ontario). His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario. ~~+~~