Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Awe of Christmas

This past Sunday as I was having storytime with my two-year-olds Sunday School class, something occured to me.  We were reading about the birth of Jesus (you know: Mary and Joseph, manger, star, shepherds, wise men, angels) and I realized... this may be the very first time some of these kids have heard the Advent story.  Even if they heard it a year ago when they were one year old, this might be the first time they can somewhat comprehend the story.  I can't remember the first time I heard the Advent story, but I've heard it so many times since then that I've let it lose it's wonder.

So this week in home group, we read the entire Advent scriptures (Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20; Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-12) and each picked out something in the story that we usually don't pick up on.  We asked questions and wondered about all of the details together.  And the awe and amazement of Advent came back to me.

Some of the parts of the story that we wondered over...
- The fact that Mary and Joseph weren't married. Think of all of the social implications people must have placed on them, the labels Mary would have been given, the courage it took for them to tell their story, the faith they had to have in God and what he promised through the angels.
- The angels appeared to shepherds, some of the most lowly people in that time. He sent angels to make this grand announcement to outcasts.
- Luke 2:19 "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Mary went through a lot. Her fiance almost left her, people probably wanted to stone her, she was traveling on camelback for months during her pregnancy. And then after she gives birth to this baby, people come to worship him.
- What happened to the gold, frankincense and myrrh? Mary and Joseph had nothing and they were living in a stable. These gifts from the magi must have been the biggest blessing for them. Maybe they used these gifts to travel to Egypt and escape Herod.

It's easy to inadvertently read through the Advent story and forget the glory of everything that actually happened.  This year, try reading it through the eyes of a two year old. Or read it from the perspective of Mary or Joseph or the shepherds or magi.

Advent Conspiracy
Several years ago, Imago Dei started a movement called Advent Conspiracy, challenging people to focus on the real reason of Christmas and not get caught up in the stressful consumerism that this season has become. This will really make you think...


  1. Mary, this is such a great post! We talked about the advent story in sunday school yesterday and referred to several of the things you mentioned. It's so awesome to think about the details and realize just how special and intricate a plan God had for the birth of Christ. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Wilshire is part of the Advent Conspiracy this year. And our Sunday School class has been studying the Christmas stories and particularly the genealogies of Jesus in the two books as Overtures to the Gospels. That is a theme you can find in The First Christmas, by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, two of your Dad's favorite authors. It is interesting to look at the details in the stories and how the two Gospels approach the story from different perspectives and with the intent that the audience for each is a different group. One side bar - I doubt Mary was riding a camel. That probably was for richer folks. The classic Christmas pictures for children's SS and in Bibles usually show her coming into Bethlehem on a small donkey (sort of like a burro).