Christmas was about leaving home, not coming home

comments 4
Childbirth / Christmas / Leaving / Singapore

mary-and-jesus

There is so much written in the weeks preceding Christmas about how to keep the “true meaning” of Christmas, how to keep from getting stressed out about to do lists, how to do Christmas right this year. Almost makes me feel a bit guilty about making lists, decorating, and cooking!  I honestly love preparing for my family’s Christmas, and I’m usually pretty good about not killing myself over everything.  Sure, I get stars in my eyes about what I’ll have time to do, but I can regroup without too much regret, and cheerfully drop the things that just aren’t going to happen.

But I think a lot about Mary.  She is the main co-star of the Story, she’s a woman I can relate to, and I like to think about it from her perspective. This became easier for me during our six Christmases in Singapore.  We were without family, far from the familiarity of our own country and traditions.  Someone had kindly sent us a tape of Christmas music that centered around a jolly grandpa repeating at intervals, “Oh, it’s just so wonderful to be all together!”  I kind of hated the tape, because every time he said that it reminded me of all the togetherness we were not having.  “I’ll be home for Christmas?”  Not a chance for the Newmans.  But it did start me thinking about the idea of Christmas being more about giving up than it is about getting. More about discomfort than comfort, more about leaving home than coming home.

We were without family, far from the familiarity of our own country and traditions. Someone had kindly sent us a tape of Christmas music that centered around a jolly grandpa repeating at intervals, “Oh, it’s just so wonderful to be all together!”  I kind of hated the tape, because every time he said that it reminded me of all the togetherness we were not having.  “I’ll be home for Christmas?”  Not a chance for the Newmans.  But it did start me thinking about the idea of Christmas being more about giving up than it is about getting. More about discomfort than comfort, more about leaving home than coming home.

The first “leaving” in this story was when Mary went to stay with her cousin Elizabeth after learning of both her own and her cousin’s pregnancy.  The Bible doesn’t tell us why Mary did this, but we can be sure she wasn’t anxious to share her unwed pregnancy with her family and neighbors.

When it was nearly time for Jesus’ birth, Mary climbed on an uncomfortable donkey and made a 3 day trip to Bethlehem with Joseph, her fiance. The prophecy of Micah 5:2 about the birthplace of Jesus needed to be fulfilled.  So, instead of Jesus’ birth being a warm family event with Mary attended by her mother and maybe a midwife, this dear woman gave birth in a cold, unclean stable, alone except for an inexperienced young man.

Later on, Mary and Joseph left yet again and went even further from home to Egypt to protect this baby, who would be our Savior.

After Jesus’ birth, the angels left Heaven to tell the good news to a group of low-class shepherds.  The shepherds responded by leaving the fields and their sheep to see for themselves what had happened.

The wise men left the East and made a long journey to worship the King of the Jews.

The most amazing departure was when the Son of God chose to obey the Father, leave Heaven, and take on the human form of a helpless newborn who would ultimately suffer and die for you and me.  Jesus truly left everything, and in the end, on the cross, he even left the presence of the Father.  We cannot begin to know what that must have meant to him.

What do I need to leave in order to worship this baby, this future King?  Is there resentment, bitterness or unforgiveness to leave behind?  Is there sin that is precious to me? Do I need to leave preoccupation with busyness, presents, programs, food, and myself?

Let’s leave our fear, discontent, and sorrow at Jesus’ feet, so we can raise our eyes to his and take in fully his great love.

Merry Christmas.

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The Author

Imperfect follower of Jesus, wife to the greatest guy in the world, Mom to five wonderful grown children, and happy Nana to their ten littles. Having grown up in the Deep South, I retain a love for all things Southern. I became an amateur cultural anthropologist during a significant time living in SE Asia and still get to travel the world on mission and for fun with my sweetheart. I love asking questions, cooking for my family, helping women breastfeed, walking in the woods, eating biscuits, and having deep conversations about things that matter. On my wishlist are reading more, playing the piano, painting watercolor scenes, figuring out my awesome camera, and writing to soothe my soul.

4 Comments

  1. Robin Skelton says

    Pastor Steve and Holly,

    How nice it has been to catch up with the wise and loving words you have to share with us. Thank you for all you do, and for all you are!

    So Blessed!
    Robin Skelton

    Liked by 1 person

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