A Labor of Love

Christmas is quickly approaching and one by one things-to-do, gifts-to-give, and items-to-buy are being crossed off my lists.  The tree is decorated, my shopping is done, some of my gifts have been handmade, most of the wrapping is done, and by tonight all of the parties and programs will have been attended.  I’ll do a little baking this week and start packing for our trip to Alabama, but by Saturday night, we’ll be ready for Christmas Eve with the family at my sister’s house.  We (meaning Bob, Robbie and I and the eight Naranjos) will leave early on Christmas morning for Julie’s house in Alabama, and the next day, the 26th, will celebrate Christmas with her family.  Finally, we’ll be able to relax then and spend the week down there just enjoying being together—our last hurrah before the Naranjos return to Ecuador sometime in January.

Let’s face it—most of preparing for Christmas falls, at least in this household, to the wife and mother—and I suspect it is the same in most homes.  Although he loves the finished results and the traditions we have established, my husband does not understand the necessity for all these preparations and would like me to just sit back and watch it all just magically happen.  I will admit, this year I did simplify and cut a few things out just to make it a little less stressful.  I am so happy to have Laurie’s family living with us (and dreading their departure), but I know I have enough on my plate just with everyday living that I could not add a lot of extras into the mix.

As time-consuming, expensive and stressful as all of these preparations can be, I would not

give it up entirely for anything.  It is a labor of love.  I want to brighten Robbie’s world because I love him so I put up the tree.  I love my grandchildren and want them to remember Christmas at Grandma’s house with fondness, as I remember my childhood Christmases.  I carefully choose gifts, or even make them, for each member of my family and wrap them beautifully because I love them and want to give them the best I can.

I have actually felt less stressed this year in getting it all done.  Maybe it is because I have tried to focus often during each day on the true reason for the season.  I have listened a lot to Christmas music these last few weeks—even putting on my headphones and shutting out the noise and the TV and the craziness going on around me and just concentrating on the words to many beautiful Christmas carols and songs.

My favorite Christmas song for several years now has been “Mary, Did You Know?”  The words are awe-inspiring and have sparked several conversations lately as we’ve wondered if Mary could truly understand the entire scope and magnitude of what had happened to her, or the true nature of her little son.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.

 

This year I’ve come upon a new Christmas song that touches my heart as well.  The words depict the nitty-gritty truth about how that night in the stable of Bethlehem might have been.  Not the lovely manger scene we see on cards, on lawns and in Christmas programs, but the realities of what Mary faced; how Joseph must have felt; the cold, stark environment that welcomed the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  The song made me focus more clearly on the sacrifice that Mary and Joseph made in order to be vessels that God could use in His plan to bring salvation to sinful men, the sacrifice that Christ made in coming down to this earth at all, and the labor of love that the events of that night truly were.

Labor of Love

It was not a silent night.
There was blood on the ground.
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town.

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold,
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold.

It was a labor of pain.
It was a cold sky above,
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love.

Noble Joseph at her side,
Callused hands and weary eyes.
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night.

So he held her and he prayed,
Shafts of moonlight on his face.
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

 

Mary was willing to be used because she truly loved the Lord.  When the angel Gabriel came to her and announced that she would carry the Son of God, she humbly and submissively accepted that labor of love.  Luke 1:38, 46-50 says, “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her…And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.  For He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name.  And His mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.”

We do what we do for our families, and give of ourselves sacrificially, because we love them.  May we always be willing to accept whatever it is the Lord calls us to do, no matter how difficult that labor is, because we love Him, too.

Have a beautiful Christmas, giving glory and thanks to God for His unspeakable gift!  I will see you back here at Sundays with Cindy on January 8th!  

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