“For God So Loved the World” by Simon Dewey
My first two children were born in a hospital located in a larger metropolitan city complete with private rooms and decent food that could be ordered off a menu at any time.
But my third child wasn’t born in this kind of hospital.
He was supposed to be, yes. But he was a little too antsy to get into the world and my contractions were quickly two minutes apart.
We lived an hour from the hospital where I had birthed the other two. It was five o’clock in the early evening and construction lined the highway. It wasn’t looking like I would make it to the hospital we had planned.
Not to mention that when my husband received “the call,” he was smack-dab in the middle of providing a root canal for an unlucky patient.
And so we pulled-up to a hospital much-closer and showed-up to have a baby.
No one knew us becauase my prenatal appointments were all with my doctor in Indianapolis.
No one had our insurance information.
No one was prepared for the hysterical third-time mom begging for her epidural RIGHT NOW.
His birth was chaos for it was the most painful of the three.
There was talk of an unexpected C-section which panicked us all.
And my head swelled to the size of a large watermelon as a result of intense pushing.
Not to mention that when I did indeed finally get the much-anticipated epidural, my sweet husband, who faced the anesthesiologist as I draped myself over him, started to ask about the doctor’s tooth he had worked on the previous week.
Not the best time for dental post-op checks.
It was not a silent night.
I think we can also conclude that the night when Jesus was born, it wasn’t so silent either.
The sounds of animals. The painful winces of childbirth. The panicked voice of an about to be new father.
Fear, worry and excitement all wrapped into quivering human voices.
No, probably not a silent not. Certainly not like the silent night we sing of each Christmas Eve.
But it was a real night filled with one very precious gift.
In fact, through this one gift, we receive several gifts.
In the last chapter of Not a Silent Night: Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem, Author Adam Hamilton lists four gifts Jesus gave the world:
1. The Gift of the Way:
“I am the way and the truth and the life.” – John 14:6
Jesus teaches us “the way” to live. Humility instead of pride. Love instead of hate. Truth instead of lies. He shows us “the way” to reconcile with God.
2. The Gift of Love
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
Jesus came to show us the heart and character of God and God is love (1 John 4:8). He is not hate. He doesn’t judge like the Pharisees and He doesn’t expect good performance before He bestows His love upon us. Thank God – literally.
3. The Gift of Forgiveness and New Life
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23
Luckily, there is nothing God won’t forgive of a truly humble and repentant heart.
4. The Gift of the Resurrection
Christmas and Easter are inseparable. Jesus was born to die for us – this is the gospel. The gospel is a gift for everyone who chooses to open the package.
When we choose to follow Jesus, there are no guarantees life will be easy. In fact, we’re told in John 16:33 that we will have trouble – not we might.
But we’re also told to “take heart because I’ve (Jesus) overcome the world.”
In the end, God wins. And since God is love . . . love wins.
Thank you for journeying through this Advent study with me, friends. In the comment section below, please answer any of the following questions:
1. What was your biggest take-away from this study?
2. Did this study help you keep perspective during the busy holiday season? How or how not?
3. What did you learn about Mary during this study?
We’ll announce the new study next week. Hope to have you join us!
I LOVED this study… and can I just say.. I LOVE JESUS… I always have but this study has been so dear and sweet that I am bubbling over with love for MY SAVIOR. That’s my take away…
I think I have a new found respect for Mary. For her faith and confidence in God with her child.Yes, he was her Savior BUT he was her child. She nursed him, cuddled him, kissed his boo-boos ( I am sure he had those too) and she mothered him just like we mother our own children. Then……. she trusted The Plan, she knew why he came and I am sure that day at Golgatha was the worst day in her entire life.
Staying in the precious word of God with like minded women helped me to be a positive influence on those around me during this time when stress and sadness and hardships seems that much worse. My family suffered a loss of a loved one during this time and right at the end our community lost a precious girl in a horrific accident. I am sure that God intended to prepare me to respond appropriately with this study. I am sure that the link between Christmas and Easter was a huge part of how I thought about these two events.
*** I loved so much better with you ALL by my side this Advent season. What a blessing it has been. Thank you…
I think that my biggest take away from this study is a new found respect for Mary. We, as Christians, know that she is the Mother of our Savior, but beyond that, we really don’t acknowledge her that much. Regardless, she was a mother, a mother who watched her son die just to save us.
I am so happy that I had this study this year. The Christmas season really didn’t feel like it usually did and maybe that’s because I was always concerned with the commercialization of this time of year, and since my focus shifted and was more on the spiritual aspect of Christmas, that the feelings surrounding it have changed. This might have been a new “normal” Christmas for me, and if that’s the case, I am extremely happy about that.
I have enjoyed studying with all the wonderful ladies that joined. Thank you so much Natalie for having this study.
I think my biggest takeaway from this study is that I can worship, study, learn, grow……stretch anywhere I am. We moved back overseas this past summer and the resettling has been a bit “unsettling” this time with our oldest son so far away at college and trying to find our new way here. Seeing the uncertainty, challenges, struggles Mary faced in her life opened my eyes to so much. Even though I have read Mary’s story, being reminded this season of her role in Christ’s life from the beginning to the end as well as living her life for him after his death was so important. Another meaningful aspect of the study was focusing on the cross at Christmas time, which I have never done before. I have always celebrated the birth of Jesus and the beauty of Christmas at Christmastime. Having the study begin at the cross really refocused my heart on the gift of Jesus as well as the huge sacrifices, and seeing it from Mary’s side brought home the true heart of Christmas from a Mother’s perspective.
Even the section on guilt rang true to me, as I struggle with always feeling like I miss the mark and haven’t quite done enough or done it well enough. I still felt the stress of the Christmas crunch, but this study allowed me to see that I am not the only one and that those small moments that I found that were truly magical had Christ written all over them. We have not found a place of worship here and even though I know this study is not meant to fill that place in our world, it truly filled a need this holiday for me. It has encouraged me to look even harder to find that fellowship here.
I have loved the discussions, and even though I haven’t plugged in at the right time since it was the middle of the night my time. :-) I have looked forward to knowing that the conversation was ongoing and I could read it and comment anytime. This has been the first study I have actually commented on and followed through with and I have loved it!
I truly appreciated all aspects of the study from the blogs to the FB posts and discussions!