The word for this week is 'PRIORITY'.
We have them, we rank them, and we keep them accordingly. With that in mind, it seems we're here once again. Just a few days before the time we celebrate Christmas and while some things change dramatically over time, others do not. Life on this earth remains hustle and bustle for many, if not most 20 centuries after that first Christmas. Today, we can easily be so rushed to get to a place that we often miss the point.
Just in case that's where you're at right now (and all of us identify) take a moment and reflect on a simpler time. You have to go back a number of years but it's worth the journey. Life in first century Israel was not as convenient as 2018 in America. The travel was more difficult, as well. Imagine leading a donkey or worse, riding one for days to get to the place you were summoned by the government to be. Oh, and add 9 months of pregnancy to the mix just for good measure. Most everything you had, you wore or carried with you. There was no U-Haul trailer in tow behind Jenny the burrow.
Joseph and Mary didn't have a lot. But they had all they needed. Faith, family and a future. God had promised, and God would provide. He still does and still will. It's a priority.
In reflection of that time in history, I reflected this week on the days when as a child living in an old farm house that was poorly insulated, I experienced the warmth of a loving family. A family whose parents sacrificed much to provide for their three children because we were made a priority by our parents. There was always food on the table, clothes on our back, shoes on our feet and love in the house. And at Christmas which seemed to a 6 or 7-year-old boy to take two years to come around, I remember there would always be at least one present under that little aluminum branched tree for each of us. You see, love was a priority.
Approximately 2014 years ago, after days of difficult travel on a late evening in the fall, Joseph and Mary made their way home for what would be the first Christmas. They, like many today found themselves pressed for time, as did others in that tiny crowded community. Their needs went unmet by those around them that night because Jesus wasn't a priority for most. In many ways, little has changed in 2014 years. So, in response, God provided a place of His own to make His entrance. As God He can do that sort of thing, you know. It was costly and inconvenient for this couple, but Joseph found a way (with Mary's oversight I'm sure) to make their surroundings as comfortable as possible for his bride and their soon to be born Son. Priority.
The walls of that stable weren't insulated. And on a cool evening Joseph and Mary found themselves isolated from the crowd that had gathered for the business at hand. However, in the solitude of a stable, love was present in the stall that night. Love was a priority.
God's love would be demonstrated initially through His birth. And heaven would rejoice!
God's love would again be demonstrated a few years later through His death and His glorious resurrection. And heaven would rejoice, again and that's the point so many so often miss!
God has given us a reason to rejoice! It should be a priority every day and it will be when He alone becomes THE Priority in and over our lives!
Yet sadly many if not most miss it in all of this madness that has become associated with Christmas. And still 20 centuries later, there remains reason to rejoice! God provided the reason and the angels celebrated. The shepherds followed their lead as did the wise guys from the east. And multitudes have since.
Have you a reason to rejoice?
Is Jesus THE Priority in your life?
If so, practice it daily with passion and praise!
If not, then today might be the best time to simplify and set aside all 'the stuff' that has over time come to be associated with Christmas. 'Stuff' that has no real substance to it and carries more significance than it should. 'Stuff' that so often steals what's most important.
In Bethlehem that night, in the midst of the crowd and the chaos there was Joseph and Mary and God. And the only gift present that night was pure love!
Jesus was THE Priority.
BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!!
And the 'good news' is, what once was celebrated on that first Christmas in simple surroundings can be again and again and again with Jesus as THE Priority.
God made you and me a priority and the Bible says there is rejoicing in heaven when one comes into His family through faith. Jesus has provided family, friends and a future of fellowship with Himself and those who love Him! It's a priority!
That is reason to rejoice on earth today for the One who made it all possible?
Merry Christmas and God's best in the New Year!