International Ministries

Emmanuel, God With Us

February 25, 2010 Journal
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2009 Christmas Service Chapel Message

(Soshin School has an annual Christmas service with a pageant depicting the birth of Jesus. Lee Ann gave the following Chapel message in costume as Mary.)

Even though the events surrounding the birth, life and death of Jesus happened so long ago, I still remember them very clearly. I remember because I was puzzled so often.

          I’m Mary. I was raised Jewish but I think you can understand what it was like. I grew up with the obligation to follow our culture and obey its law. I grew up with everyone watching me to see if I was doing right. I thought I couldn’t do anything without someone criticizing me. Do you ever feel that way?

          I was taught that the law we obeyed was given to us Jews because God loved us. I only saw rules, rules, rules and I hated them. But, one day, I understood that God loved me! That changed everything. Suddenly, I wanted to please God and obey His commands. I felt so free!

          That’s why when the Angel Gabriel came from God, I said, let it all happen to me just as you have said.

          I was about your age. At first, I was petrified! I tried to hide! But, after he said “Do not be afraid” I looked up at him. His presence filled me with JOY!

          I suppose I should have been nervous! He told me I was going to have a baby. Yes, I wanted to have babies, after I was married! But now? And what was he saying about the baby?! He will have the throne of our ancestor, King David? He will be great! He will be called the SON OF GOD?!

          He told me my relative, Elizabeth was going to have a baby. No, she’s too old! I said. But he said, “Nothing is impossible with God.” Yes, I believe that!

          I had to see Elizabeth. She was 6 months pregnant. She got so excited when she saw me. She said her baby jumped for joy in her stomach! I didn’t know if I was pregnant, but she believed that I would have a baby boy, just like the angel said. I got more excited. It was nice to have someone else believe it. I stayed with Elizabeth for 3 months before going home.

          By then, I knew I was pregnant. I was eager to share the news with Joseph. However, when I saw Joseph…he didn’t want to marry me! He knew the baby wasn’t his. I got scared! But God took care of it. Joseph and I shared the experience of being visited by an angel. Joseph was wonderful. He loved me and the baby.

          When I was nine months pregnant, we had to go to Bethlehem. I was so tired. When we got to Bethlehem I was having contractions. We couldn’t find a place. The baby king was born in a smelly stable! How can the Son of God be born here? It seemed so wrong! We did what we could: we made a bed for baby Jesus in the feedbox.

          While we were in the stable, I heard beautiful music coming from far off. Then, the shepherds came! They told us about the angels’ message and the singing! It was hard for me to reconcile this stinking stable with an angel choir. Joseph said “Jesus is ‘Emmanuel, God with us.’” Well, he really was with us, with us plain folk. He wasn’t hidden away in a huge palace, that’s for sure.

          Everything about baby Jesus’ care was just like every other baby. Except for the time we took him to be dedicated at the temple. Then, there were two people there, strangers to us, who seemed to know him! They said our baby Jesus is the Savior, the One we have been waiting for!

          We have not been forgotten! God remembered his promise to send someone to save us, the Jews, from our enemies!

          About a year later, the wise men came. What is this, I wondered! Rich, foreigners riding on camels. Coming to our house! With fabulous gifts for Jesus! Why? They said the stars told them that Jesus is the King of the Jews!

          After the men left, Joseph had a terrible dream. He woke me up and told me we had to leave for Egypt. Herod wanted to kill our baby. So we left that night.

          In Egypt, we heard what Herod did. It was terrible, killing all the baby boys in Bethlehem. I hugged my baby boy. And I wondered. God had protected us with the gifts and with the dream. But why would God choose to become so vulnerable? Babies can’t fight back.

          We went back to Galilee after Herod died. We were still afraid but God gave us peace. Our family grew. Jesus grew up to be strong and wise. Everyone loved him.

And, once again, God walks with man.

I didn’t understand it when Jesus grew up and hung out with all the wrong people. I didn’t understand it when our leaders hated my Jesus. I didn’t understand it when they killed Jesus on the cross. I didn’t understand until Jesus had been raised from the dead. I know he tried to explain it to us while he lived here and taught us.

          I’m sorry. I thought Jesus was just for us Jews. But no. He came and died for all of us.

          When I was very young, I remember being taught that in the Garden of Eden, God walked with man. There everything was perfect. When the man and the woman disobeyed God, He banished them from the Garden of Eden. But God loved the man and woman and their descendents so much, He couldn’t leave us outside. Instead, Jesus came to make a way to bring us back, all of us.

          Jesus. Emmanuel, God with US. God loved you and me so much that he left heaven to be with us.

          My life wasn’t easy. However, God always provided help and hope. Nothing is impossible with God.

 

          The angels sang the night of Jesus’ birth. I want to sing just like the angels, because I’m so happy! Will you sing with me?