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Christmas Advent 7: Preparing Our Family

Christmas Advent Day 7: Preparing Our Family

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. (Luke 2:4-6, ESV) 

As we look back at the first Christmas, I would like to point out two things from the text above. First, even the earthly parents of Jesus Christ were not immune to taking a trip at Christmastime.  And second, this little family had a strong desire to be together. I think the latter is proved by the former. Imagine being well along in your pregnancy and taking a long trip away from home. And it wouldn’t be a comfortable trip! The best case? Mary would be riding on a mule or a camel. The worst case? She would be walking. It wasn’t a short distance, either. Scholars estimate it was probably 80-90 miles from Galilee to Jerusalem, a distance that would require several days of relatively uncomfortable travel. And here’s the kicker—Mary didn’t have to go with Joseph; it wasn’t a requirement. But she chose to travel with her companion. Maybe she feared giving birth without him, or maybe she didn’t want to be alone. Whatever the case, they made the trip together—their last trip without a child. It was a trip filled with memories and stories they would tell their children, and stories that would be told for eternity.    

When I think about Christmas, besides the thoughts of Jesus, my mind is inevitably drawn to family. There are many things I do that revolve around my family, and those are moments I will cherish for my entire life. As my children are growing older, I’m thankful for all the memories we’ve shared together. If the Lord doesn’t return, I hope they share these memories with their own children! Hopefully, they’ll fondly remember these times and how much we enjoyed being together. Picking out and decorating the tree together. Going to see the 3 million+ light display at Zootastic Park (after Cracker Barrel first, of course). Driving around looking at Christmas lights. Taking one of my daughters to work on Christmas Eve. Making Swedish meatballs on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve at my Mom and Dad’s house. Reading Luke 2 and listening to Louis Armstrong read “The Night Before Christmas” before going to bed on the 24th.  Leaving early on the 26th for the trip to Cleveland. I could go on, but the nostalgia and warmth are about to make me burst. 

It’s a valuable lesson to learn from Joseph and Mary—be together as a family. Of course, that lesson applies to the rest of the year, too! And what you’ll often find as you grow older is that you and your family remember the time spent together far more than the gifts that were given. I love to give gifts, and I love to receive gifts. In gift giving there is an opportunity for memories to be made, but I most fondly remember the things that cost the least. Joseph and Mary could have complained about their uncomfortable, dirty accommodations. It was not a place a person would choose to deliver a child! But they had what money could never buy—a healthy Child that, by the way, was also the Son of God. They had a family. And as time moved on, I imagine they smiled, recalling the holy memories made within that stable: their first moments as mother and father; holding the priceless body of Jesus in their arms; the incredible account of the shepherds and what they had seen and heard. They experienced that night what nobody else will ever experience.

For those of us who are parents, let’s prepare for Christmas with an eye to our families. Savor the moments together. And for adult, single children, spend time with your family as much as possible. Your parents and siblings will be so thankful. To all of us—life is made up of moments money cannot buy. There are multitudes of fractured, lonely, wealthy families that spend money without buying anything valuable. Buy up the moments and memories this Christmas. You’ll be much better off.

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