What do an antique rocking chair and Christmas have in common?
In this era of COVID, when we can't gather together and celebrate as usual, we still find ways to share special memories wrapped up like treasures from holidays past: the smell of fresh pine when just the right tree is brought in, strands of beautiful colored or pure white lights, decorations from gorgeous and fancy to simple and elegant, scrumptious cookies and candy being made with their aromas wafting through the house, busy days of shopping, the stores beautifully decorated like no other time of year, gifts wrapped and topped with beautiful bows and placed gently beneath the tree, Christmas music filling the air as we sing favorite carols, a fresh layer of snow to reward us with the white Christmas we’ve been dreaming of as children (and adults) wait in eager anticipation of Santa’s arrival. Ahh, memories! Aren’t they wonderful?
But in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I long for quiet time to pause and reflect on why we celebrate Christmas. It’s too cold to sit out in one of my gardens to contemplate, so thoughts run through my mind as I sit in an old rocking chair.
My antique wooden rocker reminds me of when my dad brought it home from one of his cousin Howard’s auctions in Nichols 50-some years ago. It was broken; needed one of its rockers replaced. So he fashioned a new rocker to make the chair whole again.
Then my mom lovingly restored the dark mahogany wood to its natural shining luster. There’s a second rocking chair I often sit in to be near my husband in his recliner. Outwardly, it looks like new; nothing broken—though it squeaks if I rock too slowly. My in-laws knew how much I liked to sit in it over the years in their home, so they blessed me with it.
So why am I talking about rocking chairs, and a broken one at that? And at Christmas time no less! Maybe it's because they remind me why Jesus left His heavenly home and came to this earth as a wee tiny precious baby to live among us. Our lives are broken—though perhaps not outwardly evident. We need someone to lovingly restore us back to the luster and shine that we were intended to have, just like that old rocking chair. There is Someone willing to come alongside us, to forgive us on our repentance, to walk with us, gently calling us to Himself…a Savior ready to tenderly restore us with His gift of love…
I have often wondered what it would have been like to be Mary and Joseph, traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem, their first baby due soon. It was census time, and Bethlehem was Joseph’s home town. Caesar Augustus had decreed that every citizen should be counted in the entire Roman world. And so they went.
I cannot imagine Mary riding a donkey all that distance, heavy with child, only to learn that they had arrived too late to get a clean, warm room. Ever have that experience? Traveling at the spur of the moment without making reservations ahead of time for your hotel of choice, only to find some convention has slipped into town, filling every room available? Now what do you do? Where do you go? Well, just maybe the next hotel will have a room…
But Joseph kept getting turned away, again and again, from every inn where he stopped. He must have felt so frustrated. He couldn’t even provide a warm, clean room for his dear wife, who was likely in labor by then. Finally an innkeeper took compassion on the young couple and told them they could find shelter in his stable out back. Oh great! This was not exactly what they had hoped for, especially for the birth of their first child.
But, at least it was warm, dry and quiet. Well, sort of. There were all those animals they’d have to share the smelly stable with. Yes, a lowly stable would have to be good enough. Now, they could finally get some rest for the night and find a little peace and quiet…
And then, in the dark of night, with only a small torch for light, Mary gave birth to her first-born son. She wrapped him in swaddling cloths and snuggled him close. After he fell asleep, she kissed his precious little face and lay him gently on the hay in a manger. And then came the visitors, some local shepherds who told them how they’d heard about their baby’s birth.
The shepherds told Mary and Joseph that while they were out in the fields, watching over their flocks for the night, they saw the angel of the Lord in all His glory. He shone so brightly that he lit up the world all around them! And they even admitted to Joseph and Mary how afraid they had been. Nothing like this had ever happened out on the hills before! What could it mean?
But then they told how the angel had spoken gently to them saying, “Fear not! For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in the manger.’” Then, all of a sudden, a multitude of bright angels appeared in the heavens, surrounding them, praising God and saying, “‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’” [Luke 2:8-14]
Mary pondered all that had happened in her heart and soul during the days and years ahead. If we could only know what she was thinking as she watched her precious baby boy grow up, as she wondered about the life her Son would live—and ultimately give—for her, for us, just to make us whole again.
ONE HOLY AND SILENT NIGHT
One bustling and boist’rous night
A man sought a room,
A special room for his wife
About to give birth.
No room! No room at the inn!
Joseph kept hearing,
But go look for your shelter
With cattle o’er yon.
A warm and pungent stable
Mangers filled with hay,
Peaceful, serene, inviting,
Cattle mooing low.
A cry pierces the darkness
Mary tenderly smiles,
A precious baby is born
Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.
Shepherds gaze up astonished
As angels descend
Amid dazzling-lit heavens
Singing, Peace on earth!
To Bethlehem town they run
Lowly stable to find,
Promised Messiah to see,
Savior of the world.
Would I have recognized Him,
This new baby boy?
Would I have known His purpose,
My Savior, My Lord?
One holy and silent night
God came down to man.
In humility He served,
His grace-filled plan to redeem.
Merry Christmas! God bless you all!