This wasn’t part of my Christmas plans. I’m currently recuperating after having surgery for a hernia.
While my circumstances shouldn’t keep me from participating in most of our holiday activities, it has meant having to make a few adjustments. I had to make sure to finish my Christmas shopping early. I will have to impose upon others to carry any heavy packages and help take down our Christmas decorations.
Probably the most difficult situation I will face will be at our family gatherings. I won’t be able to pick up my grandchildren or give them rides on my back.
The unexpected has been part of Christmas from the very beginning. Under the circumstances, Mary definitely wasn’t expecting to conceive a child. When the time came for His birth, I’m sure she had planned on being in the comfortable surroundings of home for this occasion, not on a government-mandated trip to Bethlehem.
She certainly never imagined her delivery room would be a stable, and that her attendants would be donkeys and camels. Mary probably had planned to lay her baby in the nice crib Joseph had made, not in a feeding trough full of hay.
Additionally, I don’t think the shepherds were expecting their quiet evening to be disturbed by an angel. They hadn’t planned on leaving their flock in order to hunt for a baby in Bethlehem.
It was all so unexpected. Yet it resulted in all those involved rejoicing and praising God.
So much concerning the birth of Christ was not what people had expected. Scholars tell us that the people in that part of the world at the time did have some increased degree of expectation that someone like the Jewish Messiah was coming soon.
But Jesus’ birth was not what they had expected. They were looking for someone born in a palace. They were expecting trumpets sounding, royal robes, and eventually a military conqueror who would free them from political oppression.
They certainly weren’t looking for the supposed son of a carpenter being born in such humble circumstances. Yet that was the unexpected means by which God was bringing the greatest gift to mankind.
Don’t be surprised when the unexpected invades your holiday. It’s bound to happen. Things often just don’t go as planned. Those perfect Christmas card moments are few and far between.
Presents don’t arrive on time. Those easy-to-assemble toys are a lot harder to put together than you were led to believe. The winter weather causes flight delays. Not everyone in the family is able to be there this year. The green bean casserole gets dropped as it’s taken out of the oven. The cat knocks over the Christmas tree.
As you get ready to head “over the river and through the woods” to grandma’s house, the car won’t start. Somebody gets the flu. Or you find yourself having unexpected surgery.
The good news is that nothing is unexpected with God. It may even be part of His plan. A virgin birth, Bethlehem, a stable, a manger, shepherds — it was what God had in mind. It turned out to be a blessing to those involved, and a huge blessing to the world.
Whatever unexpected events come our way this Christmas, let’s remember who is in control. Let’s keep trusting Him to fulfill His plans.
Let’s look for the ways He may want to use the unexpected in order to bless us or to use us to be a blessing to those around us.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.