Tag Archives: Messiah

Forever Changed

The place where — according to the Christian f...

The place where — according to the Christian folk tradition — Jesus was born. The site is located in Bethlehem, precisely in the cave under the Church of the Nativity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have often wondered what Bethlehem was like a month after the birth of Jesus.  I am sure the magnificence of the night of the Messiah’s birth had begun to wan. The shepherds had settled into their boring routine of “sheep watching”.  The same field that had been the stage for an angel choir was now dark and cold and guarded by men huddled around a small fire, each questioning what he had really seen.  The innkeeper had completely forgotten the desperate young couple that had spent the night in the barn.  The manger that was the cradle of the King of Kings was now once again a feeding trough for cows.  Now that Caesar’s census was over, Bethlehem was once again a sleepy, country town.

Even though Bethlehem no longer considered the birth of the baby, now one month old, as significant, the world was forever changed that night.  Nothing would ever be the same again, because in their town, God came to this world to finish His marvelous plan to redeem the world.  Beginning that night, God was here to show us how much He loves us and how we ought to love each other.  He was here to show us how to serve unselfishly, forgive unconditionally, pray honestly, live abundantly, and die victoriously.

In the season of Advent, we join a continuous line of Christians who have celebrated for 2000 years the one who was born in poverty, lived sinlessly, died on a cross, and rose from the dead.  Jesus bought us a place in the Kingdom of God – here and now, and eternally in heaven.  He opened wide the doors of Kingdom living in today’s world.  He offers peace beyond our circumstances, hope beyond our dreams, joy beyond our expressions, wisdom beyond our understanding, and accomplishments beyond our abilities.

History was eternally changed that night 2000 years ago in a smelly barn in the dusty, country town of Bethlehem.  We date our calendar by the birth of Jesus.  He changed our approach to God, our worship, how we pray, and how we relate to each other.  The Christ Child brought grace greater than all the sins of the world – a world forever changed.

Reflection – What has changed in your life because of Christ?


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Something Scared

Ancient mosaic of Nazareth

Ancient mosaic of Nazareth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Emperor’s registration has been a great boon for business, but a mass of confusion, crowding, and short tempers here in Bethlehem.  Since our humble village is the birthplace of the great King David those of his lineage have been required to come here to be counted.  Our sleepy little country town has been inundated by hordes of irritable citizens inconvenienced by the journey.  I warned my wife weeks ago that the inn would be filled to overflowing for these days. Together we made as many advance preparations as possible – more lamp oil, food, linens.  Still the rush has been more than we bargained for, and we’ve met some real characters.

A few nights ago, a most peculiar thing happened.  An exhausted young man came in just before sunset.  He had just arrived from Nazareth with his very pregnant wife and was desperate for a room.  I told him that I regretfully had nothing to offer him – there was not a corner to be had.  Something about his manner really captured my attention, though.  He wasn’t angry or annoyed as most were, but he just thanked

me and turned to her with such concern and care.  For some reason it was terribly important that I help them.  It occurred to me that the cave in back which serves as a stable was empty.  When offered such humble accommodations they gratefully and readily accepted without a word of complaint.

Sometime during the night, I was awakened by a small group of shepherds that claimed to be looking for a baby.  I was bewildered, thinking perhaps they had had too much wine, but they hurriedly explained their reason for coming to the inn.  They related that angels had appeared to them in their field and told them of a Special Child they were to come and worship for He was the promised Messiah.  The angel instructed them to look for a baby in a manger.  I must say, I felt the strangest sensation and thought of the young couple in the barn.

We went back to see and before us was the most beautiful sight.  The young woman had given birth to a baby boy.  Her husband, I think he said he was a carpenter named Joseph, had cleared out the animals’ manger and put in fresh hay, and there the baby lay all wrapped in warm cloths.  The shepherds fell to their knees.

Although, I was confused and somewhat skeptical, I can truly say this was no ordinary child.  In that smelly old barn, there was a holy presence.  I have been drawn back in there many times in the last few days.  Something lingers – something sacred.

This Advent Season look for opportunities to give compassion.  In doing so you offer Christ’s presence to the world.  Wherever Christ is, there is a holy presence.  Something lingers – something sacred.

Reflection – When has your spirit sensed a sacred presence?

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The Discipline of Waiting – December 6

Scripture      Isaiah 40: 28-31

God seems to bless those who wait.  Waiting is a timeless discipline with eternal rewards.  The scripture has many stories of those who waited and learned.

Noah waited for years as he built a boat on dry land and learned the lesson of deliverance.  Jonah waited three days in the belly of the fish and learned the lesson of obedience.  The prophets waited for centuries to see the Messiah and learned the lesson of faith.  Joseph waited in prison and learned the lesson of forgiveness.  Zacharias waited to speak and learned the lesson of humility.  Anna and Simeon waited a lifetime to see the Savior and learned the lesson of perseverance.

Waiting during the season of Advent can serve as a discipline to teach us many spiritual truths.  While waiting we can develop patience and true obedience.  We can glimpse the hugeness of God’s love and grace and learn to recognize holiness when we encounter it.  Waiting nurtures our compassion and opens our eyes to see others in need.  It opens our hearts to service and fosters a freedom to give and encourage others.  As we pause and wait for God, we have time to assess our priorities, discover happiness where we are and develop an appreciation for what we have.

Advent is a time to deal with our fears, our anger, our disappointments, and learn to both give and receive forgiveness.  It is a time to internalize the cleansing joy of repentance and to know the peace of taking last place.  While we wait, we can use the unknown time to realize that living with mystery builds faith, and suffering and sacrifice reveal God to us.  While waiting we acquire a dependence on God, we gain hope, and we become sure that while we wait we are never alone.

Monica Boudreaux

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Pondering – Over and Over — December 3

Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico, c. 1430.

Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico, c. 1430. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She is old.  She sits lovingly wrapped in a shawl near a warm fire in John’s house, she is remembering – pondering in her heart…

It was just an ordinary day in Nazareth when I was visited by Gabriel, an angel sent from the very presence of God.  He told me I had been chosen to give birth to the Messiah.  I was troubled, afraid, confused, accepting, blessed.  I have pondered that angelic conversation over and over in my heart a thousand times….

I went to visit Elizabeth in the hill country.  Her child leaped for joy in her womb when I entered the house, and Elizabeth called me “the Mother of my Lord.”  I have pondered that visit over and over in my heart a thousand times….

The angel’s assurance to Joseph, the trip to Bethlehem for Caesar’s census, the birth in the stable, the manger that Joseph filled with fresh hay.  I have pondered those days over and over in my heart a thousand times….

The story told by the shepherds that night…how an angel proclaimed the Savior’s birth and a huge choir of angels sang their beautiful song of glory and peace in their field.  I have pondered the story of the shepherds over and over in my heart a thousand times….

We presented Jesus in the Temple and an old, devout man named Simeon recognized Him as the salvation of Jews and Gentiles alike.  He

looked me in the eye and spoke of a sword piercing my soul.  I have pondered those chilling words over and over in my heart a thousand times…

We went to Jerusalem for Passover.  He was twelve, and we realized on our way home that he was not with our group.  After three frantic days, Joseph and I found him in the Temple astonishing the scholars with his knowledge and understanding.  He told us he was about his Father’s business.  I have pondered his words over and over in my heart a thousand times….

When he turned water into wine, when he raised Lazarus from the dead, when he healed the crippled and the blind, when he walked on the sea and calmed the storm.  The parables, the sermons, his teachings.  The emotions on his face that only I could read, the times he wept, the times he challenged the Pharisees.  I have pondered each event over and over in my heart a thousand times….

The arrest in the Garden, the trials, the flogging.  The crucifixion!  Simeon’s prophecy came back to me, and I wondered how I could still be living with that sword of pain piercing my soul.  The tomb, the waiting, the crushing grief.  Then the resurrection!  Joy beyond words healed that wound to my soul!  The ascension, as my Son went back to his Father – my Son who was before me.  All of this I have pondered over and over in my heart a thousand times….

I was chosen to be the God-bearer.  I was called to obedience, to be faithful in mystery, to endure great sorrow, and to know the deepest joy ever experienced by a human being.  All these things I, Mary of Nazareth, have pondered over and over in my heart a thousand times….

Reflection – As you remember these years of journey with Christ, what do you ponder over and over in your heart?

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