While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Francine Farina friend of Joanie Caska who is also in Joanie’s writing group sent us a lovely poem for Christmas. We will publish the entire poem in our next newsletter.
The first verse of ‘Hush Don’t Cry’ captures much of what tonight is all about:
Little baby laying in the hay
Your Mother’s breast is near
A humble beginning for the
Lord of all
Hush don’t cry
Hush don’t cry
Close your eyes for a moment, or look at this manger, and see that. The baby Jesus laying in a cow’s manger filled with hay, His mother nearby, prepared to feed Him.
In the days of Jesus and in the centuries since, kings were never fed by their mothers. They did not lay in hay. They were not born in barns or caves. They were not attended by the poor and humble nor by animals. They had nursemaids and attendants. They lay on the finest woven cloth.
Isaiah tells us that “The zeal of the LORD of hosts” did this. What we see tonight is done by God with the cooperation of Mary and Joseph and the listening ears of the poor and humble. God in His very self broke into our world because of His zeal for us.
Zeal – what is it? It is focus on a mission with great energy and enthusiasm. It is singular focus. It is determination that nothing will get in the way of accomplishment. God came solely focused on us. On a mission for us.
Do not be fooled. This Jesus in the manger was not just a future teacher, or philosopher, or leader, but our zealous God Himself among us. He is why we pray, worship, kneel, and adore. He is why we listen and obey. He is why we follow the gospel path.
Because of His zeal, the Lord of Lords, God Himself took on the flesh of humankind. He became like us. The Eternal Word came among us and took on all of the sufferings we face. He was born as we are born. He felt the cold and damp we feel. His mother hurt as all women do in the pangs of birth.
Jesus felt and experienced the warmth of His mother Mary, nursing at her breast, finding comfort and love. He was protected by Joseph, because He, like us, was defenseless. All this because our God is zealous for us.
God is zealous for us, zealous to save us. He is zealous for our love, as Jesus would later tell us, for love toward Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds. God is passionate for us – and so He broke forth into the world to dissolve all those things which stand between Him and us, us and Him.
In God’s zealous love He resolved to replace dread with hope; fear with peace; sadness with joy; and hate or indifference with love. So here He is.
This very night, let us drink deeply of the cup of zeal as Jesus did and dedicate ourselves once again to follow Him in replacing dread with hope; fear with peace; sadness with joy; and hate or indifference with love.
May our zealous God bless you all richly this Christmas day and for your entire lives.