Mary and Joseph’s road to parenthood was out of the ordinary. Their path to family was different from that of their Nazarene neighbors. God’s request of them was heaven sized, yet as simple as parenting a child. They were asked to make space in their lives, in their hearts, and in Mary’ s womb, for a baby. They didn’t have to a have a dossier, a plan or a bank account.
All that was asked was faith induced willingness. So they allowed God to be the author of their days, said yes, and started making room for the baby that would change everything. And how the angels must have celebrated. The Rescuer of the World had been matched with a family. The Gift for All People was to be a son to two of those people.
We’ve all heard told how arduous the expectant couple’s eighty mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem must have been. How Mary, heavy with child, might have ridden down the dusty road on a donkey. Years of watching costumed Mary and Josephs walk pensively down aisles in church Christmas pageants leaves us imagining the couple being solemn and resolute.
But, despite the hard, can you fathom how awestruck they must have been? Imagine how filled with absolute joy they must have felt to have been chosen to bear this God-Son?
The story is for us, adoptive families. We can relate. Like Mary and Joseph, we’ve said yes to an extraordinary gift of a child from another world. God whispered dreams of adoption into our hearts, so we too made space. We released authority of our families and said yes to something sacred and outside our capability. We’ve had to be resolute, as not everybody around us understands, and the road has sometimes been heavy and difficult.
Our children are different too. They have different DNA and different skin pigment. They are medically fragile, cognitively delayed, hearing impaired, and have physical and emotional challenges. But God is still writing chapters in an epic love story, and the children He’s gifted us with have a role to play. And my guess is that you, like me, and like Mary and Joseph, are struck with the wonder and pure joy of being chosen to be the parents of very special children.
The stable birth was a gift to us, a promise that God is in it with us.
For waiting mothers with stockings hung for children you have yet to hold. Like Mary, God has given you the crazy promise of a child from another land. Hold fast. The story is for you. God is with you.
For adoptive fathers who said yes to adoption and are now trying to faithfully walk out the call. You, like Joseph, are struggling to provide for your families, keep them safe, and guide them down a road mapped out by God. The story is for you. God is with you.
For the families with newly home children, whose adoptions have changed everything. You, like Mary and Joseph, were asked to parent a child whose life pushes the boundaries of your comfort and stretches your role as parents. The story is for you. God is with you.
For the orphan who waits. For the orphans who will be chosen and the orphans who never will be. Though you might not have heard it, the story is for you. On these last evenings of Advent, you might not be wearing red stripped PJs or nibbling sugar cookies with sprinkles. Your orphanage, foster home, or healing home might not be decorated with twinkly lights, elves sitting on shelves, or ornaments dangling from Fraser firs, but Immanuel was born on Christmas for you. Bethlehem’s good news is for you just as much as it for those of us with houses festively adorned.
The Christmas story is written in your language, relevant in your time zone and intended for you. The babe wrapped in swaddling clothes laying in a manager is your great rescue plan. Your radiant hope. The Creator of All Things sent a Father to the Fatherless in baby’s skin. God is with you.
Jesus’ arrival in an austere stable begs us all to accept that there is no place too humble for His presence. No location too remote for His touch. No circumstances too bleak for His redemption. No place too dirty or dark for His glorious hope.
Tonight, the holiest of nights, may the old story be new again. May we see the wonder of its relevance to the year behind us and the year ahead of us. May we make space for Immanuel to be born again in our hearts. May we experience heavenly peace knowing that we are in the tender care of the King of Heaven who came to earth, just to be with us.
I ask thee to stay.
Close by me forever,
And love my I pray.
Bless all the dear children,
In thy tender care.
And take them to heaven,
To be with thee there.
~ Away in a Manger
Photo credit and thanks to the talented Tosh Goff