This year’s staff Christmas party is titled Nativity: Our First Christmas. It got me to reflect on the first Christmas, which was intertwined with significant people who were FAT: faithful, available, and teachable. Despite the long silence from God’s prophetic voice and ongoing oppression from the Roman government, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and even the wise men from the East were obedient to God’s guidance. Their assignments were unimaginable, irrational, and unconventional from the evaluation of a human standpoint. We are reminded that God’s servants walk by faith and not by sight. They chose to be active agents in the Messianic story.
Pledged to marry a man named Joseph, a descendant of David, Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would conceive and give birth to a son who would be called the Son of the Most High. Though she risked condemnation from society as a woman with child before wedlock, Mary acted in faith and responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1: 38).
As a righteous man who did not want to expose Mary to public disgrace, Joseph planned to divorce her quietly. In a shocking dream, Joseph was told that Mary had conceived a son who would save his people from their sins. Instead of going with his own will, “[Joseph] did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife” (Matthew 1:24).
In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. As a result, Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, the town of David, in Judea. Although the geopolitical context of the time was hostile towards the Jews, God reigned in the background and the Saviour was born in Bethlehem as the prophets foretold. In all circumstances, God is in control.
In the fields nearby, shepherds kept watch of their flocks at night. The angels brought them the good news of great joy that a Saviour had been born. In response, they said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15). They found baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph, just as they were told. They praised God for all the things they had heard and seen.
Just over a year later, several wise men from the East came to Jerusalem to worship the newborn King. Following the star, they arrived at the house where they found Mary and her child. They bowed down to worship him and presented him with gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. It is said that “having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” (Matthew 2:12).
These accounts were not accidental coincidences which serve only to spice up the nativity story. These are living proof (although deceased) of God’s servants who were faithful, available and teachable. As we commemorate Christ’s birth during the Christmas season, let us…
- be thankful of God’s love for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
- be grateful of what Christ has done for us. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1: 14).
- be hopeful and watchful of his second coming. While Joshua led the Israelites to the promised land which did not last, Jesus (his name is the Greek form of Joshua) will lead us to the eternal promised land.
- be faithful, available, and teachable each day as we serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in everything we do.
From BEST to FAT, this is the twelfth entry of my blog. The BEST start of a year is to bless, edify, share, and give thanks. Looking back to 2017, I am grateful for my son’s baptism. I am comforted to spend precious days with one of my high school friends who passed away in April. She taught me to focus my energy and attention on what really matters in each blessed day: the people we treasure in our life and the way we use our talents. I am excited of my family’s friend who has found her faith in the Lord again after leaving the church for nearly ten years. I am honoured to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Christian Alliance P. C. Lau Memorial International School. I am challenged to work with many others on a migration project and make adjustments in the new setting. It is much needed in this season at my school, to build unity, appreciate diversity, and strive towards maturity, as a community of learners. Hence, there is much to learn from the first Christmas. Being FAT – faithful, available, and teachable, in the face of circumstances which could be unimaginable, irrational, and/or unconventional.