Monday, January 7, 2013

Feliz 2013 from Farnsworth Forum

The other day I was babysitting Jacob and Elias while Marisol accompanied Joel and Amelia to Christmas play and choir practice.  The three of us sat on the floor playing with cars and blocks while we listened to Christmas music.  Suddenly I found myself overwhelmed with emotion as I pondered Mary and Joseph's situation and the gift of life that God entrusted to them.  Perhaps the past eleven months of countless diaper changes, sleep deprivation, trips to the pediatrician in Quito (at least two hours away) have piqued my sentimentalism.  That is certainly possible.  At the same time, the events of the first Bethlehem Christmas demand our reflection.

Mary must have felt conflicting emotions with the life-threatening news that Gabriel gave her.  Why had God chosen her to give birth to the Savior of the world?  Exiting indeed!  But first. she had to face Joseph with her unorthodox news without being able to predict his reaction.  At the time in Hebrew culture having a child outside of marriage was a crime punishable by stoning.  Even if Joseph "forgave" her, what would her future life as a single mother be like?  Would her friends and family reject her or help her in her new task?

Crystal Lewis in the song "Let it Be to Me" in Child of the Promise sings the following words:

"I'm just an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances
Willing to be used as a vessel for my Lord
I'm available to all You want to birth through my life
Let it be to me according to Your Word
Let it be, let it be
Let it be to me

Whatever You say I will do
Whatever You do I'll receive
Work a miracle of life in me
Your every word I'll believe
Be in me, work in me
Take all I have to give
I long to serve You, Lord
By the life I live

I'm just an ordinary girl with extraordinary chances
To give my body and my soul to serve my God and Lord
Holy Spirit, come and bring forth this gift of life
Let it be to me according to Your Word
Let it be, let it be
Let it be to me

Whatever you say I will do
Whatever You do I'll receive
Work a miracle of life in me
Your every word I'll believe
Be in me, work in me
Take all I have to give
I long to serve You, Lord
By the life I live

Be in me, work in me
Take all I have to give
I long to serve You, Lord
By the life I live".

Of course, we know how the story turns out.  Joseph decided not to accuse Mary of infidelity, and then the angel appeared to him to report that Mary's baby. conceived by the Holy Spirit, would save his people from their sins.  Joseph received Mary as his wife.  Later the young couple had more problems to overcome as they needed to travel the 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, usually a 4 day trip for people traveling in a caravan.  Mary, great with child, went like a trooper and then endured the trial of looking for housing in a crowded city.  At the time Bethlehem's population hovered somewhere between 300 and 1000 people without much extra space for visitors.  Finally Joseph convinced an innkeeper to allow the couple to rest in a stable for the night.  Hardly an auspicious locale for the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Jesus humbled himself to be born on earth as a man, even in a stable surrounded by animals.  Then, warned by an angel, the couple grabbed the baby Jesus and fled to Egypt to escape King Herod's plot to rid the world of the King of the Jews.  Quite a dramatic and problematic way to enter life!

All of us face our own trials and challenges.  2012 proved to be a difficult year for our family with the birth of twins in January with the work that multiple births entail.  As Jacob and Elias move toward the year mark, things seem to improve somewhat.  Please continue to pray for patience, love and grace to navigate through each new day and each new experience.  May all of us in humble obedience, like Mary and Joseph, offer what we have for God's glory in 2013.  We stand amazed at God's entrusting the double gift of life to us last year, and it is our desire and prayer that He continue to use us, in spite of our shortcomings and failures, in the new year.  As a family we live the Christian life so imperfectly, and yet God calls us and places His purpose in us.  Today Joel was sharing with some Houghton College friends who are visiting from WV that he wants to be a missionary when he grows up.  How we praise the Lord for his tender heart and concern for others.  May it continue throughout his lifetime.

Thank you for your partnership and prayers in our lives.  God bless you during the new year.  We love you.