Faith and Life: Remember holiness of the holiday

Christ was born into this world as an infant who grew into a boy and then a man. He came to save human beings and in the process mystified all, before and after his birth, and then after his death.

This mystery began with Mary, then Joseph, and spread to other family members. From there, news of Christ's birth and life perplexed even the Jews — the very people Jesus called his own. Jesus' birth, life and death were very controversial.

Have you ever wondered what Mary must have thought, felt and marveled about when an angel visited her and told her she was pregnant? That is basically what Gabriel came to tell her, only scripture chooses other words. Once Mary accepted the fact, did she ever feel anxious?

Mary and God were the only ones who truly knew Mary was a virgin. Mary's knowledge, her truth that a miracle was inside her, necessitated an awareness that was easier for her to accept than those around her — and for generations following. The community they resided in was not inclusively God-fearing, faith-bearing individuals.

As this child developed inside Mary's womb, the realization become pretty evident to her. So much takes place physically and emotionally within a woman who is with child. Pregnancy is a reality for us. Mary knew she had not been with a man, and she knew that she was pregnant. These two contradictions clashed in an event that could only be deemed a miracle.

I have often thought about how God chose a virgin. I have also pondered the developmental stage of adolescence and how this played into the situation — albeit a different culture and time. Mary never knew a man, she was still innocent, and from Mary's perspective, this may have made the news easier to accept.

Often the older we get the more cynical we become. Mary was chosen by God, believed and brought the savior of all mankind into the world while loving him as her own. This is a complex circumstance to wrap one's mind around.

And then there is Joseph. What of Joseph? We read about his righteousness and his desire not to shame Mary, even though it looked like she had basically cheated on him. Yes, Joseph was required to believe a miracle as well. He did not have a fetus developing inside him. He did not know at first just what was taking place.

How could he be sure when Mary told him? After all, we all know how women get pregnant. Can you envision Joseph receiving this news while in a dream? It obviously impacted him as legitimate; for he discerned enough truth to take Mary to live with him and believed that the child she conceived was of the Holy Spirit.

So we have two young people being chosen by God to raise his son. It is a charming story that is passed down through the generations. But do we take the time every year to reflect on what it is really about? I am writing of Christmas.

Is there as much time in the Word and kneeling in prayer as there is decorating and shopping? Or do we sometimes get drawn into the festivities at the loss of the foundation for Christ-mas? The thing is, I know God wants us to worship Christ and put our focus on him during this season. Sound theology also allows for gladness, joy and celebration.

I believe God wants us to enjoy life to the fullest within his parameters. But I also know God does not want us to forget the origin of this season. He wants us to take it deeper and reflect upon two young people and what they were emotionally going through.

Take it deeper and reflect on how this baby was born into a cave with hay, animals and the scents that accompany those two things. Take it deeper and wonder what Jesus saw and how he felt in that manger.

Take it deeper and put Christ back in Christmas equal to or greater than the time we spend eating, drinking, shopping, laughing and decorating. Just take moments, many moments to stop — and take it deeper this year.

The Rev. KIMBERLIE ZAKARIAN can be reached by e-mail at or by mail at La Vie Counseling Center c/o the Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian, LMFT, La Vie Counseling Center, 650 Sierra Madre Villa, Suite 110, Pasadena, CA 91107.

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