and they will call him Immanuel"
by Max Lucado
God had entered the world as a baby.
Yet, were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold.
The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor.
A more lowly place of birth could not exist.
Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor; perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him—so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.
Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event puzzles him. But he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes he remembers the name the angel told him to use … Jesus. “We will call him Jesus.”
Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel. “His kingdom will never end.” (*1)
He looks like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.
Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.
She touches the face of the infant-God. How long was your journey!
This baby had overlooked the universe. These rags keeping him warm were the robes of eternity. His golden throne room had been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep pen. And worshiping angels had been replaced with kind but bewildered shepherds.
Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.
Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking.
Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?
*1 - Luke 1:33
From God Came Near
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1986) Max Lucadohttp://maxlucado.net/shopping6.00/shopexd.asp?id=23403
Exerpt from: Black Ink
Written by Desmond Tutu Doubleday Hardcover April 1995 $ 21.95 978-0-385-47730-7 (0-385-47730-9)
The great Archbishop of Capetown, South Africa, shares with us the simple but profound secrets of his extraordinary spiritual strength by unveiling his very own book of prayer. Prayer, our conversation with God, needs no set formulas or flowery phrases. It often needs no words at all. But for most believers, the words of others can be a wonderful aid to devotion, especially when these words come front faithful fellow pilgrims. The African Prayer Book is just such an aid, for in this collection all the spiritual riches of the vast and varied continent of Africa are bravely set forth. Here we may delight in Solomon's splendid encounter with the Queen of Sheba, overhear the simple prayer of a penniless Bushman, and glory in the sensuous sonorities of the mysterious liturgies of the Egyptian Copts. Here are Jesus' own encounters with Africa, which provided him refuge at the beginning of his life (from the murderous King Herod) and aid at its end (in the person of Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry his cross). Here are the prayers of some of the greatest among the mothers and fathers of the Church -- Monica, Augustine, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthag -- as well as the prayers from the African diasporas of North America and the Caribbean. From thunderous multi-invocation litanies to quiet meditations, here are prayers that every heart can speak with strength and confidence. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is for millions the very soul of Africa, is our guide on this unique spiritual journey. His introduction is destined to become a classic, his characteristic energy and optimism light our way, and the words of his favorite prayers (many composed by the Archbishop himself) will stay with us forever. Learn more about Bishop Tutu at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Tutu
Praises to Our Most High God!
Joyfully Submitted by Linda Mose Meadows, author
The Blessedness of Believing-
A Devotional Journey of Life’s Lessons and God’s Promises