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"A Christmas Surprise"

Everyone has a picture in his or her mind of what a perfect Christmas looks like. Of course, it starts with well-behaved children who don't complain when you ask them to put on those gaudy red and green reindeer sweaters, a Christmas dinner that comes out just right and, most importantly, in-laws that do what they're told and forgo endless criticisms of how you once again failed to live up to their Christmas credo! Yes, everything is falling into place. Everyone stands around the dinner table with each family member's head bowed in humble reverence as they anticipate your dinner prayer (which will will be the most beautiful thanksgiving prayer unto God that has ever been proclaimed – in fact, you think you might want to ask your pastor if it could somehow be added to the biblical canon… it's that good!). Everyone then, in unison, sits down and starts enjoying your Christmas feast. However, without your knowledge little Timmy has been stashing away his brussels sprouts under the table. By the way, who serves brussels sprouts for Christmas dinner anyway? Yuck! At any rate, little Timmy plans to feed them to Fido. This nutritious appetizer emboldens the hundred pound golden retriever to jump into grandma's lap and devour all the food on her plate. As always, Grandma over reacts, yells and accidentally hits grandpa in the head. Out fly his dentures. The canine malefactor sees a perfect opportunity. He grabs up grandpa's dentures and darts out the back doggie door. In an effort to retrieve his teeth (and his dignity), grandpa runs outside, slipping on an ice patch on the back porch. With a broken leg, the rest of the evening is spent in the emergency room eating from a vending machine rather than enjoying that perfect Christmas ham that you perfectly prepared.

Seem familiar? Well… maybe nothing quite that extreme, but we've all had our Christmas surprises. The question is: Did you learn anything from those experiences (Well, beside the fact that you won't serve brussels sprouts for Christmas dinner again)?

During this time year many people give lip service to the great lessons of Christmas, especially Christians. Yes, Jesus our Lord was born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. We all know the story. But, have you ever thought about it from the perspective of Mary and Joseph? Talk about your Christmas surprises – the first Christmas surprise! Nine months pregnant and miserable, Mary endured a long 70-mile trip, not in a minivan, mind you. This journey probably took several days to complete. Finally, they arrive in Bethlehem so that darn Cesar could find out how much money he could squeeze out of people. Well, what do you know? The Ancient Days Inn just booked their last cockroach-ridden room. They had nowhere to stay! All the while she is probably thinking "Oh Lord, don't let the Lord come yet!" But, to her dismay, she's having labor pains and Joseph knows he'd better act quick. The innkeeper, who sees their predicament, offers them his barn. By this time Mary has braced herself for the inevitable. She accepts the fact that she will give birth to the Creator of the universe surrounded by barnyard spectators.

Our Lord's first Christmas was a much more humbling affair than the fiasco I outlined above. Yet, small surprises can turn our world upside down. Our attitude really does show how petty and selfish we are. The King of kings deserved that perfect Christmas, one where he was recognized by the world as the Lord of all. He should have been welcomed as the Savior. He should have been heralded into Jerusalem and celebrated by all as their deliverer. If our Lord went through the first Christmas surrounded by manure, which he didn't deserve, what makes us think we deserve any better? Shouldn't we think about that as we wait for grandpa's X-rays in the ER? Merry Christmas!

- Jordan McGehee