Proverbs 3:5 Tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” The year of 2020 has taught us the need for trusting the Lord like never before. We have seen uncertainty in every aspect of our life. Yet God has remained faithful. As hard as it has been there is much to be thankful for and much hope as we look forward to Christmas and 2021. God has helped us learn to adapt, to appreciate what we have and to appreciate our church.
The church has learned to operate differently. We have changed plans, cancelled events and services as we have adjusted to the new normal. We can no longer say we can’t do it because we have never done it that way. We have been forced to accept the fact that we do not know from one week to the next, so we must try. We give God glory for even small victories when things work. We adapted to Zoom and Facebook to share the Gospel. We social distance, wear masks, wash hands in order to worship. We have learned to embrace others, If you’re sick, vulnerable, or in any way uncomfortable attending in-person, we totally understand, and hope you’ll tune in virtually. We also hope you know we care about you, miss you and are here for you.
Covid has brought us near to the uncertainty and the need to trust God the Holy Family felt on that first Advent, Christmas and even afterwards. As our normal has been interrupted so was the Holy Families normal interrupted. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled in a tax census. All went to their own towns to be registered.” Joseph and Mary were busy making plans. Joseph was putting the finishing touches on a new cradle. Mary was busy making baby blankets and baby clothes. Mary could feel the baby move and she wondered about this child, whom the Angel Gabriel told her would be the Son of God. She talked with her mom and her sister daily, helping Mary prepare for the baby. Mary had arranged her mid-wife. Mary was excited about the baby and everything was falling in place. That all changed when Roman Soldiers marched into the town square and declared Caesar Augustus’ decree about being enrolled in a census and each person had to return to their hometowns. This meant, Mary and Joseph would have to travel to Bethlehem while the Baby was almost due. What if it was time for the baby to come, who would Mary have as a midwife? Who would be there for her now? It was an arduous trip when she was this close to her delivery date. The new cradle could go unused for awhile. Everything was being interrupted. As we anticipate families traveling, there are interruptions of social distancing, masking along with the security precautions at airports. Hotels are working to disinfect rooms and public areas. As people travel by cars, they will be discovering many restaurants are closed. Joseph and Mary experienced similar traveling problems. When they arrived at Jerusalem there was no room for them. Not one relative had space for them. Not one member of the community could offer them hospitality, because the town was overflowing. There wasn’t even any room for them in the inn. But the innkeeper offered his barn. “And she gave birth to her first son and wrapped him in bands of swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” On that first Christmas there were a lot of interruptions to lives, just as we are experiencing lots of interruptions. The Children of Israel were not happy with the Roman Government ruling over them and disrupting their lives. They trusted God and God provided.
As we just finished an election season and the election is over, but the political divisiveness is not. The COVID has the economy going up and down, mainly down as different businesses have to close or reduce the hours they are open. We now watch as the news gives the new COVID numbers, they are more than numbers. Now they are faces of friends and loved ones. In this peaking of the virus once again, there is fear about this unseen foe of COVID. Into this broken world, into this fear and pain and hurt our Lord answers the powers of sin and death and brokenness. “Do not be afraid; for I bring you good news of a great joy for all the people, to you is born, this day in the city of David. a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” To YOU is born a Savior. Our Lord Jesus became IMMANUEL, God with us. God came himself to heal our hurts. God came himself to bring us comfort. God came himself to give us his peace to calm our fears. God came himself to defeat the powers of sin and death.
Especially during this time of COVID and other brokenness intruding into our lives, we need to hear the good news the Angel declared to the shepherd. Even if we can’t be together like normal; even if shopping and giving gifts is different, even if loved ones have COVID or we are protecting them from COVID, Christmas comes. Jesus comes. Jesus is Immanuel. Do not be afraid! For unto us a Savior was born, who is Christ the Lord. God is with us. Trust God lean not to your own understanding!
Have a blessed Christmas!