Christmas makes me (Alayna) weepy. It's not the stress of gift buying or the craziness of family parties and plans with friends. It's not the over commercialization of the holiday or even the seeming cultural push to remove any connection between Christmas and Christ. It's not remembering loved ones who aren't with us this Christmas, which certainly can elicit tears. And it's not worrying about sending Christmas cards out on time, which should make me cry. None of these things really make me weepy, not in the way that one small Jewish family from Nazareth does.
I grew up hearing the Christmas story. Joseph with Mary on a donkey headed to Bethlehem, and finding nowhere to stay, they ended up in a stable. Then the Christ child comes, the sky is full of an angel chorus, and shepherds and wise men with gifts show up. I have heard it a thousand times, and maybe you have too. Heck, one year I even performed a monologue as a pregnant Mary for my church. But when I became a mom, especially the second time around, what had become ordinary was new again. I connected with the Christmas story in a whole new way. Now I can't tell the Christmas story without choking up, tears, or ample pauses to keep from crying. It makes me weepy.
When Isaiah was born, I was on heavy medication and out of it for days due to pregnancy complications. But when Annika arrived, I was awake and able to experience the beauty of her birth. To hear her first wail was an overwhelming, tearful moment for me. With that experience, I could feel the Christmas story... I could imagine the quiet night in a stable in the Middle East when Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, and heard Jesus fill his lungs and cry. The Christmas story now had a layer of emotion for me. New mom emotions of an overwhelming love you have never felt before. Combine that with the Easter story from a mom's perspective, and I was a mess.
A newborn baby Jesus wrapped up in swaddling clothes with Mary, the new mom, looking on with her heart overflowing with love - that scene played over in my mind makes a mess of me at Christmas time. Especially when I hear certain Christmas carols, I break down. "O Holy Night" isn't just a regular old Christmas song anymore. It's a beautiful worshipful retelling of the most glorious night the world has ever seen. Even now my eyes are full of tears. Just read these amazing lyrics, and let them soak into your soul.
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
Can you imagine it? Can you place yourself there with Mary and Joseph? Can you hear Jesus making sweet newborn noises? Be a fly on the wall, cause you know it was a barn and there was probably plenty, to see, feel, smell and experience the night of our dear Savior's birth.
It wasn't the most clean or picturesque moment. There were no doctors, no standards of cleanliness, no cameras to record the moment, no Facebook or Instagram to tell all your friends in a flash about this amazing moment. It must have been so quiet. So calm. And yet all the world was on edge waiting for this moment, for this life to come and change the rest of eternity. It was the beginning of a cosmic revolution, the boundless God of the universe reaching into time and space, placing His Son in the arms of a teenage girl, as a tiny, helpless baby. For you and for me. Wow.
Can you imagine it? Can you place yourself in the Christmas story? Can you feel the love in Mary's heart? Can you imagine her thoughts and emotion? Can you imagine the thoughts and mind of God, watching His plan unfold? It's overwhelming to think about what Mary must have experienced. It's even more amazing to imagine what God was thinking. The truth is that in that moment, he saw you and me. He was filled with mercy and grace - for us. Can you see the grace and love of God - for you - through the birth of his Son?
For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son... - John 3:16a
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. Galatians 4:4
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. - 1 John 4:10
Now will you let yourself be changed by it this Christmas season when you hear and experience the story of Jesus' birth?