MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: One week before Christmas
It’s one week before Christmas. Seven days. One hundred sixty-eight hours. The countdown is on. Presents still need to be bought and wrapped. Meals need to be planned and cooked. Decorations better be up, but if not, there’s still plenty of time for those last-week touches. What do you do seven days before Christmas?
I wonder what Mary and Joseph were doing the week before Christmas? Had the edict to return to Bethlehem been issued yet? Were they packing their bags for the trip? As they lay in bed that week before, was Joseph gently holding his hand on Mary’s now large belly and feeling the baby kick? Was Mary being constantly bombarded by questions like, “When do you think the baby’s coming?” Was Joseph, the carpenter, putting the finishing touches on a crib for his expectant son? They knew the baby would be arriving soon, but did they know it was only one week away?
How their lives would change in seven days. And oh, how things changed when Jesus came. And not just for the expectant parents, but for the whole world.
In that one holy moment just one week away God would breath into his lungs the first molecules of the air he had created. His human eyes would see the first rays of light he had called into existence. His nose would smell the not-so-pleasant aromas of the animals he fashioned. His skin would feel the first touch of a human hand. The holy, infinite, divine spirit encased in flesh.
The whole world changed when God became man - and that’s exactly what happened. As mysterious and incomprehensible as it may be, the Bible makes the claim that Jesus was fully God and fully man. John puts it well in his reflection of the coming of Jesus as he simultaneously declares Jesus to be God and human. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” wrote the beloved apostle.
It all would happen in just one hundred sixty-eight hours.
But it really goes back much further than that. God had been planning this day for millennia. This birth was centuries in the making. The countdown started long before Gabriel let Mary in on the plan.
God dropped the first hint in the Garden of Eden shortly after mankind rebelled. The great deliver Moses caught a glimpse of the plan when he promised the coming of a prophet like him. Isaiah saw through his prophetic eyes that not only would a special child be born, but the man he would grow to be would die a sacrificial death. Prophet Micah even pinpointed the town he would be born in – O Little Town of Bethlehem.
Did Joseph and Mary know that in seven days the dreams and visions of prophets would come true?
His birth may be just one week away, but the plan was conceived of even before time began. When God created us he determined to become one of us. He came to us so we can come back to Him.
It’s one week before Christmas. Seven days. One hundred sixty-eight hours. In one week we celebrate His coming. The arrival of God to planet earth as a man. A coming that assures for us an eternity of weeks, days, and hours we can be with Him.
Todd Catteau is the preaching minister for the Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison. He and his wife, Henriann, have four children and two grandsons. He is a native of Massachusetts and loves his Boston sports teams. His writings and links to sermons can be found at catteau.net. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.