Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
December 21st, 2022
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed… And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.” Luke 2:1,3
Well, we are getting to the core of the Christmas season, when (hopefully) our weeks- or months-long preparations can wind down to some quality togetherness times with family and loved ones.
“No way!” You might say “I’m as hectic as ever!” “I’m hosting people at my house this weekend”, or “I’m flying out tomorrow, and connecting through Denver!” Certainly lots of Christmas songs and movies accentuate (or, conversely, poke fun at) the hectic times that surround Christmas more than the core of it.
I guess you could say even the Biblical Nativity story has that pattern of hectic movement and stress before settling in to enjoy God’s provision. Mary & Joseph got late news that they would have to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem (a journey of about 90 miles as the crow flies – and don’t forget: there were no highways, gas stations, and drive-thru food along the way! Would’ve been a trip of a couple of weeks one-way at donkey-walking speed), when they got there, there was no lodging available, and, on top of it all, Mary began to go into labor!
I can’t think of one example of Christmas travel/logistics in which I’ve been nearly so stressed as they must have been. But to then contrastedly pause; to look at the babe in arms which was direct evidence of a miracle of God; to receive surprise worshippers of shepherds and magi, must have filled Mary and Joseph with awe and reverent wonder.
I pray that we will similarly get some time to pause and reflect, and drink in the reason for which we’ve gone through all the bustle and hassle and hurrying, navigating crowds, putting up decorations and the like.
It’s that God has drawn near to us. And that we, in emulating God’s desire to draw near, similarly seek intimate times with our families and loved ones.
Reflecting on the reasons for Christmas makes me also consider why we do all we do: do we live to work, or work to live? The line of delineation can certainly become blurry in our modern society.
But let’s remember: all the travel and inconvenience were worth it for Mary and Joseph, only because of what resulted: The Son of God coming to dwell with us. And similarly, our work and stress and frantic preparations are only worth it if we stop and reflect and love and cherish those whom we’re working for, and are glad to God for having in our lives.
I pray that you will get a chance to drink deeply of family time, and God’s love in this Christmas season. If we lose that, we’re no better than big city Jerusalem missing the blessing (or even actively attacking it, once discovered) that God intended.
May God bless you and your loved ones this Christmas and beyond.
Pr. Mark Tatum