First Posted: 12/24/2008
In years past, one of my favorite things to do to celebrate Christmas was to go to the First United Methodist Church in Pilot Mountain for Christmas Eve candlelight service. It was such a moving and holy experience. I loved singing beloved Christmas songs like O Holy Night in unison with the whole church. It was almost like you could feel everyone breathing at the same time. It was quiet, peaceful and reverent.
Looking back on the experience, I think what moved me so much was the sheer joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. To be there, in that church on that night, I have never felt so close to our Lord the Savior.
While Santa Claus is wonderful and gives children such hope, the reason for the season is Christs birth.
One of my favorite Christmas memories was the year I went to see The Nativity Story in the theater with my mom. Im not much of a movie goer, but this movie really touched my heart. It explained the birth of Jesus in a way that I had never experienced it before.
The wise men were not only smart, but they were really funny. In the story I had heard my entire life in church, I never really understood what Mary and Joseph went through to bring Jesus into the world.
The Holy Spirit appeared to Mary in the olive grove to tell her that she would bear a child and his name would be Jesus. At first she didnt understand why God chose her to carry his child. She asked Why me? But she realized this was a gift from God and understood its importance. Joseph was very upset with her when he first saw that she was with child, but then the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and explained that this was Gods will. He accepted this and stood by Mary in a very difficult time.
What you have to remember is that Mary was living in very poor conditions. Her life was full with family and Gods blessings, but she worked hard to provide food for her family. Joseph had his eye on her and asked her fathers permission to have her hand in marriage. But in those days, they had to wait for one year before becoming man and wife.
In all of those years of going to church, I never understood what a sacrifice these two young people made to bring this child, our savior, into this world.
I never thought Joseph got a whole lot of credit for being a real stand-up guy. The movie portrays him as a good-hearted man, but in the end you really understand that he fell in love with Mary and accepted the child of God.
In the days after to Jesus birth, King Herod had declared that every male child be slaughtered. That is why Mary and Joseph fled to Jerusalem so she could give without fear of Jesus life being put into danger. Being full term, it was hard for her to ride on the donkey for the days that it took them to make the trip.
I honestly fell in love with the way that Joseph cared for Mary. The way he truly loved Mary came across in a way that I had never understood before. He made sure she had enough to eat everyday. He made sure she had a comfortable place to give birth. He stood by her all the days of his life.
What a gift we have in Jesus. He is the salvation of our souls. He gave the ultimate sacrifice. He came to the earth to show us how to live. We need to give of ourselves and to give back. I truly believe that Christmas is not about how much you give, or what you give, its about the feeling in your heart. Its what you do for others that really counts for something.
Mondee Tilley is a staff reporter with The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.