Mangerial … December 16, 2011

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Live from Palm Coast, Florida, in A Spirited Christmas

 
I was nearly twelve years old the first time I actually heard and grasped the entire Christmas story. I had been to church before but because of my youthfulness, the absence of having ears to hear and possibly the infrequency of the tale being relayed, I somehow missed the entire impact.
 
I remember when I heard it with my “first ears,” I was astounded by the notion that the heavens could light up with stars, kings could come from the east, angels could dance across the sky and a baby could be born in a barn without the whole world exploding with anticipation.  How could the community the next morning go about business as usual? It was beyond my twelve-year-old mind that something so magnificent and visible could occur without recognition.
 
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think many of us are under the false impression that if something is grand enough, glorious enough, or even talented enough, then it will receive appropriate status. Now that I have aged and realize the ways of the world, I know that nothing could be further from the truth.
 
God put together the perfect scenario to make sure that the birth of his son went without acclaim amongst the people. Look at it:
 
Two thousand years ago, who cared about a pregnant teenage girl in a small town? Are you trying to tell me there would be any notice for that today? The attitude would be, “She’s poor and ignorant, so her premature entrance to motherhood is somewhat predictable.” Mary, mother of God, didn’t even raise an eyebrow.
 
 Equally so, her partner and husband, Joseph, was just a common everyday laborer in a little community. Who cares about such folks? Governments debate taxes, wealth and affluence. Some fellow working with wood or trying to build a wall wouldn’t garner much attention. 
 
Same thing is true of the star. To see the stars, you have to leave your house at night and stare into the heavens. Most people are too tired to do that. Most people don’t have time to look up because they’re too busy gazing at the ground.
 
And of course, nobody would care what a few shepherds thought about seeing a vision of an angel. They would be considered drunk, blowhards, or just trying to make their lives more interesting.  Shepherds weren’t exactly at the top of the social ranking.
 
Meanwhile, some foreigners coming into town, who were “wicked astrologers” according to the Jewish law, would certainly not have been taken seriously either. After all, the way they viewed the heavens was unacceptable and therefore rejected.
 
Who cares about kids? Once you see a baby and tell the mother it’s beautiful, what’s next? What can a kid do to take away the burden of Roman law? The two most disrespected units in our society are people under the age of ten and over the age of eighty. Who cares about a new-born king?
 
Especially one surrounded by animals in a barn. Talk about disrespect! What creatures get more disrespect than donkeys, sheep and goats? How much of a king could you be if you’re surrounded by livestock?
 
God pulled off the perfect plan. He beamed his son down to earth and shared that information with the most obsolete individuals in the culture of the day–and because it was proclaimed to the forgotten, those who forget never even knew.
 
I decided many years ago that ministry is ALWAYS what is done and never seen–because those who need the ministry the most have no way of either producing remuneration or offering us any notoriety. Pregnant teenagers don’t even make a blip on the screen of politicians. Working men from Nazareth don’t get mentioned in political debates. Weird astrologers from the east are just that — weird. Shepherds are dismissed as eccentric. Children are to be seen and not heard. And animals…well, after all, they’re just animals.
 
I’m slowing up over the next few days, to pay attention to the forgotten of our society–because if Jesus is going to be re-birthed in our hearts, it will not be done on Christian television, CNN, FOX News or some Barbara Walters special. We will find him in the pregnant teens, the working men, the bizarre star-gazers, the flighty shepherds and amongst the creatures of the earth. That’s where he’ll be.
 
So here’s to the first birth–and to my quest to find Jesus in this Christmas season. Just find the forgotten and you will rediscover the manger.
 
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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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