Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why the Shephards And the Wisemen?

I could never figure out why God sent an angel to lowly shephards and a star to Wisemen.
There is such a contrast between two groups of people that it is very strange that they should both get a moment as strange as meeting the Messiah of the world.
And yet it fits so beautifully with the rest of the story that the meaning of the whole thing is lost to the cute little shephards and the ornately decorated wisemen.
So let us examin the two of them and see what we come up with.
First of all we have the shephards. They were amazing Jewish men living most of the time by themselves never really having much to do with the outside world other than the other shephards in the area and the temple servants that would come to find the perfect lambs for sacrifice. They lived a little stone caves and had to keep an eye out for preditors and other creatures human and animal that might take the sheep. Not only that, but they knew every last one of their sheep and had names for every last one of them. They were a special people and yet they were lowly people also. I am sure they didn't smell the greatest and I am sure their social manner was that of street people today.
So why is it that God sent such a beautiful sign to these dirty, smelly, lowly men who took care of stupid sheep every day? Why did he proclaim the birth of His Son the Messiah when he could have announced it to more important people?

And then there are the wisemen. They weren't even Jewish and Jesus was prophesied as the Jewish Messiah so why in the world God direct these men to the star? These men were scholars and observers of the heavens. They had study the Jewish Scriptures and seemed to know that when that star came it ment that something spectacular had just occured.
But why is it that God choose them rather then Priests or Scribes of the Jewish faith who study the Scripture and knew it as well as the Wisemen did?

Personally I would think those are good questions to ask when investigating the strange stories of the shephard and the angel or the wiseman and a star.
It think it all wraps up into a very simple and beautiful explination. The Shephards were a symbol of three kinds of people. One they were Jewish and Jesus had been promised for the Jews. Secondly they were poor symbolizing that Christ not only was born for the rich, but for the poorest of poor. Thirdly Christ as for even those who had not training of any kind and were very simple minded in the ideas.
Then we have the wisemen and they are also symbolized as three different kinds of people. First of all they were considered Gentiles and although Christ was prophesied for the Jews, Christ came to save even those who were not Jews, but Gentiles. They were rich which meant that God didn't just send his son to die for the poor or the middle class, but also for those who had all the world goods they wanted. Thirdly they were scholars. They could read, write and study the stars and know of things that those of us with simpler minds could never even think about. They could be compared to Bill Gates who is both a very intellegent man and very rich. But dispite it all God still loved them enough to come to earth as a baby and to die for their sins.

And now we understand why God choose these men. Because He wanted us to realize that Jesus had come to earth for all man kind and not just for a specific group of people.
The more and more I think of the Nativity story the more amazing it becomes to me. There is so much depth in the story that no one thinks about that we should recognize as a beautiful expression of God to mankind. What an awesome God we have!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thinking about Joseph

When we think of the Christmas story we think of Mary, the Shephards, the Angels, the Wisemen and even Jesus himself, there is a very important person that we miss when we name off everyon. I mean we don't miss him, he's there, but I don't think I have ever heard his story before.
If you were Joseph what would you think of all the things that went on?
Here Joseph was preparing a home for his betrothed Mary. As a carpenter he loved to work with his hands. He probably worked night and day making things for their little house to be. Then he hears that Mary is home from visiting her cousins. He runs to see her and realizes she is pregnant. How could she do this to him? Thinking she had been with another man, he has the right to divorce her and even stone her.
All of his friends are calling on him to stone her, but dispite it all he desides that maybe he should do everything quietly. He loved Mary and inspite of the fact that she had done this to him, he still loved her.
I wonder how many nights Joseph was wake in his carptenry shop working at this project or that trying to work through his feelings. How many days people would come to him and tell him he needed to deal with Mary.
How about when the angel came to him in his dream? What did he think or feel? He must have been horribly afraid and maybe even a little confused. Why was it that God had picked his Mary for this task. For that matter why had God picked him For this task? I wonder if he got up after the angel left him and started to carve or plain something. I wonder if he paced up and down in his shop wondering if the dream was real or not.
When he finally went to see Mary and tell her that he had an angel speak to him in a dream relief to know that Mary really had been unfaithful to him must have shown on his face.
It couldn't have been easy for Joseph any more than it was not easy for Mary. People probably stared and talked behind both of their backs. Joseph must have wanted to protect Mary all he could, but when the call came to be taxed in the city of their family, Joseph must have had a hard time debating on whether he could get away with not taking Mary.
When he finally realized he couldn't leave Mary behind, he must have made sure they had everything they would need incase something should happen on the way.
Or what about his stuggle to find a place for Mary to have her baby? In desperation he went from inn to inn to house to house looking for anything. And when all he could find was a animal shelter I wonder if he was thinking about how he wished had something better, or if he was just relieved that Mary could finally have the baby.
Whatever the case with Joseph's story and the fact that the last time we hear about him is when Jesus was 12, I can just imagian as Mary gave birth to Jesus and Joseph held that baby in his arms for the first time he must have felt joy, pride, praise, exilhiration, fear, reverance, shear panic as he held his Messiah in his arms and realized that God had choosen him to be the earthly father of the Savior of the World. As a new parent fears to let anything happen to their tiny child, it must have been doubly true for Joesph becuase he knew that he had a task before him to bring this child up ready to do whatever it was God, His (Jesus) Father wanted him to do.
Wow that really brings Joseph unto a whole new light.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thinking about Mary

One month from now is Christmas. And this happens to be the time of year I start thinking hard about Christmas. We aren't talking about Presents and all that stuff. I'm talking about Christmas it's self and all the symbolizim and just the story about it.
There is one person I usually start thinking about because no matter what, she was probably the most effected by Christmas.
If you are thinking Mary you are right. I was watching the movie The Nativity Story last night and I was really suprised at what I discovered. They showed Mary just the way I have always thought her to be.
And as this is what I think about it, I will just say that you are entitled to think differently because no one really knows.
Mary lived a hard life. How could she not? Israel at that time was not an easy place to live because of the Romans. Ceaser, along with Herod were coniving men. They murdered themselves right to the top leaving anything and everything desolate. Mary's family was no exception. They lived on the land. Purhaps her father was a merchant, but more than likely he was a farmer or even a shephard. Nazareth very well could have been a small out of sight little village that no one really cared about other than to collect money no one really had.
I expect that when Mary was betrothed to Joseph she either had known him all her life, or her father had decided that a carpenter would be a fine husband for his daughter and arranged the marriage. (As I have seen what they did in Fiddler on the Roof I would suppose that an arranged marriage was not unlikely.)
I don't believe Joseph was an old man. I think he was a man purhaps around 30 years old because that according to custom of the time was the age that a man was established and considered a man.
Mary really could have been any age. I think her age was between 16 and 21 years old probably more younger than older, but that part really doesn't matter.
The thing that I really like about the movie I watched last night was the fact that Mary was not perfect like so many people think her to be. Almost as if she were God himself. But that is not true. She was a regular, every day, ordinary person working to help feed her family. And as Jewish women hoped that purhaps God would pick her to be the Messiah's mother. Because even back when Eve gave birth to Cain she had the hope of being the mother of the Deliverer.
What must Mary have been thinking when she was visited by an angel? I know what I would have done. I would have fallen to me knees in fright and yet Mary actually started asking the angel questions.
Then the angel said some of the most wonderful words "But with God all things are possible". I think that must have been the kicker that made Mary agree with such a frightful concept.
What could she have been thinking as she walked away from the conversation knowing that she was about to carry a very beautiful gift for the next nine months with the likelyhood of being ostrosized and purhaps even stoned to death.
And yet the girl had faith that God would protect her dispite everything that people would say. And Joseph.
God purposly told Mary about Elizabeth. I think he knew that she would need to get away to really think about what was happening to her and to learn from her cousin just who it was that she was now carrying.
How many sleepless nights did Mary have while she was at Elizabeth's house? How many people starred at her? And to be the cousin of a priest. Shame Shame!
And when she went back home very likely by that point showing around the middle, what did her family and friends think of her?
They shunned her. So shocked because dispite the fact that she was a normal human being, she was always known for her purity. And now for her to come home pregnant.
It must have broken Joseph's heart knowing he would have to throw the first stone at his beloved Mary.
Was Mary scared with the prospect of being stone, forgetting the promise of the Messiah who was growing inside her womb?
Even after Mary gave birth and then came back many years later with a young son to her hometown, I am sure those who knew Mary looked down on her as a sinner. Unclean.
It must have been very hard to continue on, but dispite all of that she had Joseph who believed in God's promises and she had the promise of her Jesus as being the Messiah.
What faith this woman must have! This must have been the real reason why God had choosen her above the thousands of other women God could have picked.
Oh to have Faith like Mary.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

Nothing irritates me more than when someone says that to me. Just like when someone tells me Happy Holidays or Merry Xmas. It sticks under my craw like a pebble in a shoe.
People are so set on changing things from what they should be that they take the emphasis off what is important and put it on something that is petty.
And today I am going to dedicate this one to all the petty people who wished me Happy Turkey Day.
Thanksgiving over the years has really changed. Because it is one of the only uncommercilized holidays it happens to be my favorite Holidays. It also has nothing to do with Turkey's. As a matter of fact I would be sure that Venison was probably the main meat and not turkey so why is it not really called Deer day or Venison day. Easy Turkey just tastes better.
Unfortunately people have forgotten what Thanksgiving is all about just as they have forgotten what Christmas is all about.
So I am going to tell you a secret that is no longer in public school history books because of being politically correct.
Thanksgiving wasn't about football and parades when it first happened. No as a matter of fact football didn't exist and the only parade they probably saw were the Natives and the Pilgrim Men coming back with food from the hunt. Sorry no balloons there!
The Seperatists (they weren't puritins at the time) felt that they need to leave England and the church because they did not believe the same as the church of England. The church had started to rule them, telling them what they could and could not do. So they left. First going to Holland, but soon percecution followed them. At last they decided that it was time for the new world. Of course many adventurers wanted to go along as well so after a lot of trouble and several false starts and going from two ships to one ( a ship that was too small for the amount of people) they headed for a new world and Jamestown. Only a wind blew them completely off course and they ended up near what is not Massachusettes. By that time sickness had hit, killing many on board. They landed and a search party was sent out, but the land was found to be inhospitable. That wasn't all. It was getting cold and because of all the false starts they had summer was over and fall had set in. Little did they know that they were also being watched as they stole corn from burial grounds to feed the starving people.
When they finally landed on the ground that they felt sutable they all gathered together and gave thanks to God.
But that is not the end of the story for you see that winter because it was cold, and people were sick, and they were also starving only a small handful of them were left over. And yet that Spring when the ship left they continued on, making friends with the Indians there and learning their ways. More families came over and together with the Indians they were able to plant food and hunt game and fish.
And five years after they had landed, they did not sit around a big table with the Indians to thank each other for all that had taken place. Indeed not.
Instead they gathered around probably on many tables and even on the ground with family and friends and yes play games and have compition afterward, to thank the One they knew to be their Salvation. The one they knew had helped them through those long tough days of starvation, disease and death. God himself.
And yet all we can think about today is turkey and football. How foolish we have all become for getting our Creator and protector for everything he has done for us.
And so I want to wish to you a very Happy Thanksgiving and remember to wish everyone what they should rightfully be wished.
A Very Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What are you Thankful for?

I don't know about you, but so often I go through my days and totally forget to be thankful. When I was in college I would get up every morning when the bell rang and at the time we all had to be up with our feet on the floor by 7, and I would have nothing positive to say.
I am not a morning person by any means and having to get up so early in the morning every day just made things worse. I would go to the breakfast table every day and complain. Finally a friend of mine couldn't stand it any longer. She looked at me and said "Don't you do anything, but complain in the morning?"
Ouch! That hit me hard.
Then she suggested that when I get up in the morning that before my feet even touched the ground I should think of something to praise God about, even if it was just being able to open my eyes in the morning. She said that it would actually help me in the morning and throughout the day.
So I tried it. And you know what? It really works. I was shocked. So I started to do it every day and the days I forgot I could see the difference. One thing is for sure, I never had to worry about my friend yelling at me for being so negative at the breakfast table again.
But I pose the question. What are you thankful for?
Okay so it's Thanksgiving on Thursday and right now everyone is trying to think of things that they can say they are thankful for. Right off the bat you have family, friends, job, roof, food. You know the normally stuff people say when they are asked to say what they are thankful for in church.
But what are things that you should be thankful for that you don't notice. What about green grass because if it wasn't green, but brown all the time, it wouldn't be pretty. The sunset and the beautiful work of art God makes in the sky every night. How about the bees and the wasps? Did you know that with out those nasty little creatures we wouldn't have the beautiful flowers or the delicious fruits and vegetables that grow in our gardens. How about medicine? How about our comfortable furniture. What about the rain and floods or even the fire that wipes out half a state? For that matter hurricanes?
Everything that we see here on earth is for a purpose. Amazing isn't it just how much you can be thankful for. It's no wonder Paul told us to be Thankful for everything. It's because you can be thankful for everything even if it seems like a bad thing.
Being thankful is not really hard to do. It really should be a daily routine like brushing your teeth. SO when you get up in the morning tomorrow, before your feet even touch the ground on your way to the bathroom thank the Lord for that Noisy truck outside collecting garbage or the annoying squirrel chattering on a branch right out side your bedroom window. Or maybe even for the warm blankets that you used last night. Or the warm shower you know you will have.
Then throughout the day when you start to get a negative attitude because your boss once again didn't trust you to do something, thank God you can be there as a testimony to your boss and that even though your boss doesn't trust you, you can still go on in life knowing that you have never done anything untrustworthy.
Try it! It's addicting and you will want to start doing it every day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Good news

I have a goal to finish my story by December 31. Good news. I just went over the 100 page and the 30,000 words mark.
I have hit the major turning point and it seems that there is more working under the surface then what meets the eye. For that matter even more than what I had expected.
A lot is going to happen in the next few months. I'll be going on my cruise to the Bahamas (that's up in the air as to the date now), a new family member is in the works and maybe more. Thanksgiving is next week. My birthday in two. Christmas in a little more than a month not to mention New Years. Easter will be coming up in March also which I will probably be singing in the chior.
All in all it looks like a very bright and busy year ahead.
Oh and did I mention the fact that I will be offically signing off on one of my school bills by the summer. Very exciting if you ask me.
Okay so if I seem a little hyper it is because I am on a writing high tonight. I just wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty pages in my story and because it is at a high point in the story, it has me bouncing off the walls.
Those pumkin seeds are rattling, but I haven't turned into a pumkin yet.
I really need to go to bed now. I think I might sleep just from exhaust.