It is the Season to be Outnumbered and Surrounded

Ed, my neighbor next door, said he didn’t see it coming. His wife and family ambushed him with plans for Christmas that will make his bank account shrink to overdraft status. It seems plans were made behind closed doors that the entire family will spend Christmas this year in Mexico. Everybody – sons, daughters, spouses and grandchildren – will meet at a resort for Christmas week. Ed was the last one to be told, as Ruby said there is only so much whining she can take. Ruby has declared that Ed is going and he may as well make the best of it. Personally, I have no sympathy for Ed. He sees it as the trip that will cost him money he doesn’t want to spend. I told him he will enjoy it. He will find that out when the week happens.

Ed complained, “I should have known you would side with the enemy! You like wasting money on traveling around. Some of us would rather stay home and keep our money in our pockets. I don’t need heat and sun, sand and ocean surf for Christmas. Snow is good enough for any Canadian.”

Seeing that Ed was determined to reject the Christmas plans of his family, I tried to change the subject. “Think the N.H.L. will be back playing hockey by Christmas?”

“Won’t matter if I’m stuck in Mexico sweating in the shade with no decent television to watch,” Ed snarled in answer.

Thankfully, Ruby came out in the yard to put out garbage and I asked her if she thought their Christmas family trip to Mexico would become a yearly event. Ruby’s own words were, “Not a chance! Our daughter-in-law, Betty, who works in the travel industry, was able to get us all a once-in-a-life-time deal. Sometimes, things just work out in your favor. As a couple, we are going for way less than half price.” Suddenly, Ed had to go talk to Ruby to find out all the money they were saving on their trip to Mexico.

As winter takes hold of us, many do turn thoughts to travel to places like Mexico where warmth and sun are inviting. In the Bible, travel was not frequently undertaken simply for pleasure. Sometimes travel was forced upon people by the government and it was a duty and burden. That was the case when Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman World. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral town to register.

So Joseph went up from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem of Judea. He went there to register with Mary. He was pledged to be married to Mary who was expecting a child. The child she was expecting was not Joseph’s child, but conceived of the Holy Spirit.

It was a three-day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and the means of travel was by foot or riding on a donkey. While Joseph and Mary were there in Bethlehem, “She gave birth to her firstborn, a son, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

We tend to make big Christmas plans with elaborate celebrations. How simply God worked on the first Christmas with his baby Son born in a stable and laid in a manager!

 

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Raymond Maher
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