Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Follow that star~


This is a star ornament that I made after seeing some pretty glitter stars over at Martha Stewart...the directions and samples are here. The center and sequin loop to hang this star are fashioned from the embellishments that come in the SIS ZingBoom kit here. Very unique... I still need to get out and buy some glitter- there are so many projects to do with glitter and it just adds that sparkle and shine and little bit of 'oomph' that I like in crafts this time of year.
Now for my mini~sermon- because I just can't help but think and reflect this time of year, especially when I sit and make things like star ornaments. My kids have been singing and signing about the star over Bethlehem and so I have done some reading and thinking about the star and it made me wonder about some things. These thoughts are for me...but I know some of you get a kick out of what I think about sometimes- so that's why I share them here.
The angels announced the Savior's birth out in the middle of a field one night over 2000 years ago and told the shepherds that they should follow the star that shone brightly in the sky that night.
Now, I believe that the "Christmas story" happened- that it is true and not just a feel-good story to read and listen to and sing about in carols to warm our hearts this time of year. But sometimes I think it loses it's meaning and significance and I don't pause long and hard enough to reflect on the impact of this story in my life. I have often wondered about what it was like to be Mary and Jospeh. I have tried to put myself in their sandals and imagine what they were thinking and feeling as they traveled the long road to Bethlehem only to find there was no place to stay and how hard it must have been for them to 'keep their faith' that this was somehow all a part of God's plan for the birth of His Son.
I know that God was with them and that the peace and assurance He filled their hearts with was enough to make them do exactly as they were led- but still, it must have been hard to not question the circumstances.
I can just imagine me in similar circumstances. I would probably have griped and complained most of the way to Bethlehem and Chip would have been leading the donkey saying in his mind, "God, how could you have picked me for this woman?". He would have questioned his role in this plan, and then I can just see us stepping up to the counter at the inn and hearing the words, "there's no room here for you" after all those miles and I think I would have snapped and lost my patience right about then. I would have said, "Wait. You can't possibly understand or even want to believe what I am about to tell you, but the truth is, I am about to deliver the Savior- the Christ child. Certainly God prepared a nice warm room for me and my not-yet-husband, Joseph, where we will settle in and have an amazing birth experience. Now...maybe you should just check which room is waiting and ready for us."
That would have been me. In my nice tone. =)
But it didn't happen that way. Even though God could have blinked or said the word and the poshest hotel room could have been willed into being right then and there in that little town of Bethlehem.
No.
God's son was born in a cold, dusty stable. By His choice. He sent angels to earth to announce the babe's arrival. He sent them to some lowly shepherds out in a field in the middle of nowhere. And that is what grabs me in a new way this year. He sent angels to tell shepherds this good news. He put a special star in the sky and simply invited the shepherds to be a part of this miracle- but it was their decision to follow the star and become a part of this amazing 'story'- this miracle that changed the destiny of the lives of many.
I imagine the trembling shepherds and know that they must have been thinking they were crazy, or about to be killed or that they should just pretend none of it happened. I suppose they wondered for a few minutes, 'what should we do now?'...but their hearts had been moved and they could see the bright star, so it would have been almost an easy decision to follow the star to the babe in Bethlehem.
It makes me wonder why so many of us miss the 'heart of the message of Christmas', which I believe is simply wrapped up in the word, "Immanuel" which means "God with us". God sent His son to be Love for us, to be "Him" to us- a visual, tangible, living, breathing, walking, talking, healing Prince of Peace to a broken and needy world. The world has needed a Savior since Adam and Eve first broke the relationship between God and man. We needed someone to restore this relationship from the beginning of time, and God had a plan that He only He could put in place to make things 'right' again. This plan meant that God would 'put on human flesh' and live among us in order to 'become one of us- only spotless and blameless' that ultimatley ended in His sacrifice and death on a cross. Three days later when Christ arose victorious over death, it made a 'new way' for us to have restoration with God. We now simply have to believe that Jesus is God's son and that He died for our sin in order for us to live as 'new creations'- forgiven and free- that when we die we can stand blameless before God and worship Him for all eternity!
What an amazing story that is so easily overshadowed these days with the glitz and glam of lights and trees and presents and cookies and things that are so trivial in comparison to what God had planned all along.
Back to the star...I was thinking about all the 'commercialism' of this Christmas season in our society today and it makes me stop and think. Not just a little bit out of sadness that the 'real message' is so distorted and hidden in the festivities, but it made me stop and wonder if I would have seen the star on the hillside with the shepherds that day, and how God wants us to 'see Him' no matter where we are in our lives- even 2000+ years later.
I wonder if God were to hang a 'sign'- a star in the sky this Christmas- would I 'see it'? Would I be too busy to notice a star in the sky or to hear the message of His birth? Would I believe that He is who He says He is...or would I pretend that my 'inn was full' or that the angels' chorus was just a dream or part of my imagination? Would I tune out what the world wants me to believe- the idea that you have to be able to touch something and 'prove something' before you just accept it as truth? Yes. The star makes me wonder. Some of you may wonder what is true about Christmas and what one can really believe.
I thank God that my heart doesn't question, it doesn't resist, it doesn't fear. I thank God that His peace and His assurance fills me. Not just at Christmas. But all the year through. It's my wish for everyone to have this same Peace and Hope in life. I hope that those of you who are seeking and questioning and wondering will 'see' that God is who He is. And He is with us- not just back then in the form of a babe, but His spirit is alive and moves in those who accept Him into their hearts and lives. No matter where we are or how broken we may be. God's plan to restore us to Him includes one and all. May you be blessed to know Him and claim Him as yours this Christmas and for the rest of your life.

10 comments:

Sara said...

Amen.

Anonymous said...

Love how you told the story and shared how you would have felt :)
It's so amazing isn't it??!! :)

--adrienne (looman lol)

Jim and Jaena said...

We saw the movie "The Nativity Story" last weekend, and it has given me a new new perspective on what it might have been like for Mary and Joseph: the apprehension, the disapproval of others, the very long, hard journey to Bethlehem. It was good - not perfect or totally accurate - but very good.

Anonymous said...

Jody,
I am anonymous blog reader :) I LOVE thinking about the Bethlehem Star - especially after seeing the presentation on it that you can read about here: http://www.bethlehemstar.net/ It's phenomenal proof of how God has clearly ordained the birth of His son, even through the stars!
Thanks for your posts. Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I stumbled on your blog, you realy inspire me with your love of life and your faith!!
I remember in my late teens it felt like my whole life was falling apart and one morning, while driving to university with my dad I was sick on top of everything, my dad had to stop the car on the side of the road for me to be sick. In his unshakable way and very calmly, this wondeful man, I am honoured to call dad, told me = Darling, have you tried talking to our heavenly Father about this, you do know that He will never betray your confidence, don't you?
That simple comment, now so many years ago, changed the way I felt and lived my life from then onwards.
I often wonder, how do people cope with the simple act of just living through every day if they have no faith?
Let the star lead us this Christmas to be a little more patient, a little more loving and a little less questioning.
Lots of hugs and love from sunny South Africa.

Anonymous said...

I like you post very much. I have followed Christmas celebrations here in India and also in the US when I used to live there. Here it is all about the birth of Christ, the Star, nativity scene decorated at home, midnight mass at Church. Families celebrating the birth of Christ hang a big lit star outside their homes and decorate the nativity inside their homes. I find it is a lot less commercialised holiday here. I do have to say that I loved going to the shops and malls in the US just to admire all the Xmas decorations, loved to give and get gifts, loved to decorate a tree at our home, but was sad to see the commercialisation of the holiday. And surprised to note that the Star did not have a prominent place in the celebrations. Just an observation from an outsider about how the same holiday is celebrated in two different countries. I enjoy participating in Xmas festivities in both countries. Priya

Cyndi said...

I was cracking up when I read "in their sandals". It amazes me that so many people are unaware of what the true meaning of Christmas is. I can't imagine living without the knowledge that He is watching over me. How sad to think that there are people out there who don't know this story!

*kim* said...

I have been very reflective of the Christmas story lately myself and truly appreciate your thoughts. While reading in Luke this week about Mary visiting Elizabeth, I was struck by verse 41 in the first chapter. Although I've never carried a child in my own body, I was just imagining how Elizabeth felt when her baby "leaped in her womb" upon hearing Mary's voice and being filled with the Holy Spirit! I think sometimes we forget they were all humans and felt scared, excited and a plethora of feelings that all of us feel. It all does come back to faith I suppose.
Thanks for your poignant postings. ~kim

kim brimhall said...

i really REALLY love those stars! they look martha worthy, if not better!

just lisa said...

I just found your blog - this was so touching and so true! Really loved reading it. Thank you and may God continue to bless you and your family.