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Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Mixed-up Christmas

Every once in a while, Christmas seems a little mixed up. A couple years ago, some of our family came days before the 25th, opened gifts well before Christmas Eve, and said good-bye before the countdown closed shop doors at the mall. We had to use our daytimers to keep our comings and goings straight, complete with flight numbers, train schedules, and baby routines.

But we came. We came to be together, mixed-up notwithstanding.

The first Christmas was a little mixed-up, too. It all started with an angel, a misunderstanding smoothed over by a dream, and a compulsory road trip. Perhaps Joseph tried to remember the mid-wife’s instructions as he half-carried Mary into an innkeeper’s barn ninety long miles from home. It seemed an invisible hand guided them to this unlikely place. What thoughts raced through Joseph’s mind as he tried to comfort and care for Mary? He couldn’t—no, he wouldn’t—let anything happen to her. Did his hands tremble when the time came to deliver her baby boy?
Angel wings from the throne room of heaven brushed against an earthy night sky. These eager celestials lit up the hillside as they sang to startled sheep and shepherds . . . shepherds who, in turn, traipsed into town peering into every barn they passed—searching for a very special baby! The eastern horizon saw camels carry gift-laden kings west.

Far away, a lone star slipped out of orbit to chase a child.

Nothing happened the way Joseph and Mary thought it would. An impromptu wedding instead of a traditional ceremony. Bethlehem instead of Nazareth. A cold stable instead of a warm home. Strangers, in the form of shepherds and wise men, instead of family and friends. An undercover detour to Egypt instead of a celebratory homecoming. God ordained this mixed-up plan. Heaven came to Earth, and Earth has never been the same.

Immanuel came. He came to be with us, mixed-up notwithstanding.

The ultimate mix-up took place thirty-three years later when the perfect Son of God . . . died . . . instead of us. His resurrection makes it possible for mortals to live . . . forever . . . with Him.

We made the best of our mixed–up Christmas that year. But the ultimate mix-up is the best thing that’s ever happened to us. “Thanks be unto God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

First published in www.christiandevotions.us, December 26, 2013.

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