2009-12-27 / Opinions

Through the Stained Glass

The Ordinary Turned Extraordinary
BY ELDER ESTHER VOLZ, COMMUNITY OF CHRIST

“From day one, God the Father determined not to shelter His Son from the rude, crude realities of life on planet earth. Jesus Understands. He’s been there.” From Bill Hybels, in “Seeing the Christmas Scenery”

For most of us, we’ve celebrated Christmas every year since we were born. We’ve given and received gifts, sung the Christmas songs and hymns, and heard the Christmas story from Luke. I read a little book that tells us to look deeper. Bill Hybels says to take our camera and look even closer at the stable and the manger.

I’d like to share some of his thoughts along with my observations. God could have had Jesus born in a proper building, but Mr. Hybels said he made a deliberate choice not to. Jesus was born among the smelly, noisy animals in a dark, damp stable on a bed of straw!

Jesus experienced in His short life on earth many of the things that we experience in the real world. And he probably had more humble beginnings than we did. He had a real family, worked as a carpenter, lived in a neighborhood. He had real friends, suffered hardship like the rest of us and died a cruel death.

He lived a life without advantages, his family was poor, he was a refugee before his first birthday, he was rejected and ridiculed as part of his daily life. In his time of greatest need, his friends abandoned him, he experienced the sorrow of death of his loved ones and experienced more physical pain than you or I will probably ever experience.

Have you been close to your breaking point? Has someone hurt you so badly that you don’t want to go on? Remember that stable and Jesus who was born within it? Jesus understands. He’s been there. He can identify with you no matter what. What’s more, you matter to Him more than you can possibly imagine.

We must be humble and trusting enough to pour out our hearts to Him and then allow Him to love and minister to us, and restore us to wholeness again.

Taking a closer look at the manger, Mr. Hybels says “a manger was nothing more than a feed trough for cattle. It was ordinary in every way - But because God’s Son was laid in a manger - the ordinary becomes extraordinary - the cradle of a king.

“The manger is a symbol of what can happen to an ordinary man or woman when Jesus Christ resides inside. It’s a symbol of what has happened to thousands of people (ordinary people) around the world. Working, thinking, acting, relating people, until one day these ordinary people saw themselves for who they really were…” God’s children who have allowed Christ into their hearts, becoming exceptional through responsiveness to God.

This transformed person strives to give God pleasure, gives love to other people with thoughtfulness, generosity, tenderness.

Have you allowed Jesus to bring about that transformation into your life? Have you turned over your troubles and problems to Jesus? He understands. Next time you see a stable or manger in a Nativity Scene, think of how the ordinary turned into extraordinary, just for YOU.

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