Journey to the Manger: Mary

Lauren and Jackson at our church's candelight Christmas Eve service

Lauren and Jackson at our church’s candlelight Christmas Eve service

On Christmas Eve, we pondered with Mary on our Journey to the Manger.

Mary was there for it all. The Angel Gabriel appeared to her to announce the Messiah was coming, and she would be His mom. She believed and trusted Her Heavenly Father, and went to visit her cousin Elizabeth to see God’s miraculous power first-hand. She spent three months with Zechariah and Elizabeth, and may have even seen the birth of John the Baptist. Mary traveled with her betrothed husband Joseph to Bethlehem to be counted in the census declared by Caesar Augustus. When they arrived, no one would give them room, and the two ended up in a stable when Mary went into labor. She gave birth to a son, wrapped him in strips of cloths and laid him in the manger. When the shepherds arrived later and bowed low before her newborn baby, they must have told amazing stories of an angel proclaiming the Messiah’s birth and heavenly hosts filling the night’s sky. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple, and while there to fulfill the law concerning their son, they met Simeon and Anna who prophesied about Jesus. Later, wise men came and worshiped Jesus, laying expensive gifts before Him, telling them of the star that guided them from so far away. Joseph then helped Mary and Jesus quickly escape Jerusalem when God came to him in a dream revealing Herod‘s evil plans. Mary and Joseph eventually made their way back to Nazareth, where they raised their son.

Mary

Mary

Mary experienced these moments and so many more as she watched her precious Son grow, in favor with God and man. She was there when Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water to wine. She watched and heard about His travels from town to town proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven was here. She marveled as her Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, fed thousands, even raised the dead.

And, Mary stood at the foot of the cross, where her child hung by nails pierced through His hands and feet.

Mary was there at the beginning and at the end.

The night Jesus was born, Scripture tells us that Mary treasured every moment. She stored every tear, every kiss, every snuggle, deep within her heart. She wondered and worshiped as she listened to the shepherds and watched them praise God for her perfect little boy.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

– Luke 2:19

Jesus is our treasure. He longs to reign in our hearts, for us to ponder His love and abundant grace.

Tonight, our family pondered Jesus’s story and treasured it up in our hearts at our church’s candlelight Christmas Eve service. We watched candles being lit as Scripture was read, and sang carols praising God for His great gift of love. When we returned home, we spent time together talking about what a wonderful month we’ve had approaching the manger and focusing on Jesus, the greatest gift of all.

I can’t think of a better way to spend Christmas Eve than treasuring the Savior we will celebrate tomorrow!

Journey to the Manger: Innkeeper

The kids created comfy beds in the living room to think about what it would be like to trade comfort to serve Christ.

The kids created comfy beds in the living room to think about what it would be like to trade our comfort to serve Christ.

The innkeeper told us there was no room at the inn today on our Journey to the Manger.

When Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, they could not find a place to stay. Then Mary went into labor, and Joseph did what he had to do by delivering the Son of God in a stable.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

– Luke 2:7

Innkeeper

Innkeeper

Though we don’t know if an innkeeper turned Joseph and Mary away, Scripture tells us there wasn’t room. That means someone wasn’t willing to give up their sleeping space so a very pregnant woman could find comfort for the night. No one intervened when Mary went into labor to let her in so her child could enter the world in a more sanitary space. Joseph and Mary ended up in a dirty barn and placed their newborn son in a trough where the animals ate.

Why didn’t someone speak up? Where was the compassion that night, as a girl on the verge of having a baby was turned away?

Our hearts are much like that inn. We fill it with relationships, busy schedules, activities and agendas, until there is no room left for the Savior. We place our comfort, our desires and our priorities ahead of submitting to and serving the God who gave us life.

This Christmas, let’s evaluate the real estate of our heart. What fills our attention, captures our emotions, and takes priority in our life? God wants our whole heart, not just the corners or the space left over.

We may talk a good Christian game, but our actions show our heart. What conveniences and comforts are we willing to set aside to pursue Christ?

Make room for Jesus.

 

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.