A Strange First Christmas

Monica Berndt

"What Child is this who laid to rest on Mary's lap is sleeping, whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?"

I love Christmas! I always look forward to the holiday and every year I imagine the snow-covered lawn, the beautiful Christmas tree, and the joyous music that comes with the holiday. This particular year is even more exciting for me, because the dream of a white Christmas actually came true.

Why is Christmas so wonderful? Why do we spend so much time waiting for it to come each year? It cannot be just because it looks beautiful outside, or because you think your parents will get you a really good present this year, or because you don't have school or work on that day. There must be a reason that this holiday is so special.

Well, it is because about 2,000 years ago there was no snow, no festive lights, and no holiday music, but there was a tiny baby born in Bethlehem to new parents who really didn't understand exactly who this child was. This child had come unexpectedly into the life of a young Jew named Mary who was planning her marriage to a young man named Joseph. They were not expecting to have a baby and the news of Mary's pregnancy nearly ended her engagement to Joseph. Despite these less than perfect circumstances, God had chosen Mary as the mother of His most precious Son, and had chosen Joseph to raise the child in a good home.

It must have been a strange night-the night of Jesus' birth. His parents, unable to stay in any lodging place were forced to make themselves comfortable in a stable with the other horses, cows, and donkeys of the other travelers to Bethlehem. So many today say that they would have given up their rooms to Mary and Joseph if they had been there because they would have known how important this new child was. How could they have known? Even His own earthy parents really had no idea how special this child was. They couldn't have foreseen His eventual death on the cross and His resurrection. They couldn't have guessed that this little child would bring eternal salvation and new life to the entire human race: past, present, and future. They couldn't have seen the peace and comfort His words and promises would bring to sin-stricken consciences. On that night, He was just a new, small baby who needed food, clothing, and shelter from the night air just like any newborn.

I cannot help but imagine what Mary and Joseph would think if they could see our holiday lights, hear our Christmas hymns, and observe us stopping everything we normally do just to celebrate the birth of this little baby. They might be surprised, they might not believe it, or they might ponder the way Mary did when the shepherds came to worship the newborn Jesus. Yet, the reason we celebrate is because we do know just how wonderfully important this baby is. He is the entire reason we have hope for eternal life, and His birth on that night over 2,000 years ago is also a reminder to us that God always keeps His promises. The birth of Jesus had been promised ever since the fall into sin, almost from the beginning of the world, and His birth in a lowly stable fulfills that promise.

So, each year, enjoy decorating your Christmas tree, spending time with loved ones, and attending Christmas Day services because Jesus has come to save each and every one of us! How wonderful it is to have a God who not only keeps His promises, but also comes down to us in human form to rescue us from this world of sin.

"This, this is Christ the King whom shepherds guard and angels sing. Haste, haste to bring Him laude- the babe the son of Mary."

Monica Berndt is a music student at the University of Washington and a member of Messiah Lutheran Church in Seattle. She loves playing and singing Christmas music at random around her house and enjoys watching her cat knock ornaments off the Christmas tree.

Created: January 3rd, 2016