This is the time of year the joy of the Christmas season is everywhere. The aroma of cookies and pies waft through the air, and there are lights, silver bells, and decorations to add to the festivity. The joy of giving abounds as we shop for that perfect gift. We hear Christmas carols merrily playing while people sing or hum along, all reminding us of a Currier and Ives type of American Christmas.
This beautiful imagery of an Americana Christmas swells our hearts with joy for our salvation, and it is the time of year that we feel goodwill toward all men. However, it stands in stark comparison to the three women who experienced the original Christmas: Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna.
Mary was a central character to the birth of Jesus. She was betrothed to Joseph but not yet married, so when the angel revealed to her, she would become pregnant with the Messiah, it could have been scary for her. Although she may have been apprehensive, she responded with faith and joy in what we call the Magnificat.
Elizabeth Mary’s cousin was barren, which was a disgrace in the Jewish culture. Her husband, Zacharias, was the high priest, one of the most important positions in the Jewish community. They both were elated at the announcement of the birth of their son John who would be the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah.
Then there was Anna, a widow who lost her husband at a young age and stayed in the temple day and night, fasting and praying that she might see the Savior of the Jewish people.
What do a young girl, a woman past childbearing years, and a widow have in common? All three had reason to lose hope and question the faithfulness of God, but all three remained faithful, and the Lord worked mightily through them. For them, the first Christmas wasn’t about caroling in the snow, baking cookies, or buying presents; it was about faith and trust in the God that they knew and served. Christmas isn’t about decorations and mistletoe; it’s about God entering into our pain and struggle and bringing us hope and eternal salvation.
May you enjoy the season through their eyes.