Advent Devotionals: Day 2

Matthew 1:18a

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way…

The birth of Jesus took place; it happened. It’s not just a story or a fairy tale, it’s a fact. Even history books record that a man named Jesus lived in Israel. Sometimes a story can be heard so many times that we don’t really think of the reality of that story.

For a moment, go into the theater of your mind and really picture the scenes of the Christmas story. Start with a teenage girl not yet married who is told she is going to give birth to the Messiah. Imagine the shock on her face when the angel appears, the confusion and wrinkled brow as she questions “How can this be?”, the look of contemplation and grin of amazement after the angel leaves and the words that were just heard begin to sink in.

Fast forward a few months and picture the scene of Mary returning from her trip to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She’s been gone for three months…about the time it takes for a woman to start visibly showing that she’s pregnant. Joseph, Mary’s fiancé hasn’t seen her since she left and when she returns he finds her to be with child. He knows it’s not his. Imagine the look of shock, the look of a heart breaking as he assumes the only thing that makes sense; she was unfaithful.

Joseph goes to bed that night and is told in a dream “Do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Imagine the smile that must have crossed his face when he awoke and realized that God was at work. Imagine the look of relief and joy on Mary’s face as Joseph told her that he was not going to divorce her but instead believed her audacious claim; he believed her child was a miracle.

Imagine the journey of Joseph and a very pregnant Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Imagine the disappointment at finding no room in the Inn. Imagine the shepherds out in the field watching their flocks and the heavenly hosts that visited them. Imagine all of these scenes and remember that they were real events that really happened.

Now picture Mary holding her baby for the first time. The look shared between Mary and Joseph; the smiles behind tears. And imagine Jesus, your Savior, being placed in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. God in flesh, God with us, Savior, Messiah, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, asleep on the hay. These are not just stories, they are part of the greatest story ever told, better than anything Hollywood could ever come up with, and entirely true. The birth of Jesus really did take place and it took place for you. Imagine that.
 
Prayer: Father, help the Christmas story to be truer to us than ever before. May each word of the Christmas story impact us in new ways and may our hearts be full of thanksgiving when we reflect on the gift given at Christmas.
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