Perhaps the last two years have made me a little skeptical about making plans or resolutions for the new year. After all a world-wide, lingering pandemic has meant changes and moving from Plan A to Plan H. So, I have been trying to cultivate a spirit of flexibility (not always successfully) and looking for where God is showing up, even when things don’t go according to my plans. After all, those who were part of that first Christmas had their personal plans put on hold, had to put flexibility into action, and in the end they experienced the joy of God’s presence in their lives in ways they never could have imagined
Mary was just a teenager who wasn’t planning to get pregnant before she got married, but she became the mother of Jesus.
Joseph wasn’t planning that the first child he would raise wouldn’t be his son or daughter, but he helped raise Jesus, God’s son.
The shepherds didn’t expect to be trekking across the countryside to see a newborn but they followed the angel’s good news to see the baby Jesus lying in a manger.
The wisemen thought a new king would be found in a palace (that’s why they showed up at Herod’s), but they made the adjustment and followed the star to Bethlehem and there they found the King of the world.
They all changed their plans, made adjustments, and were flexible enough to experience the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But I have always wondered about the others:
Mary and Joseph travelled by themselves to Bethlehem because that was the family’s hometown. But what about the rest of their family? Didn’t they have to travel to Bethlehem too? Or weren’t there still family members living in Bethlehem who could have put them up for the night? Why weren’t they with Mary and Joseph? Was it because they didn’t adjust their plans and believe that Mary was pregnant with the Savior of the world?
Weren’t there others outside when the sky lit up with angels singing and proclaiming Jesus’ birth? Certainly someone besides the shepherds heard something, but no one but the shepherd made the journey to Bethlehem to see the newborn Savior.
And what about that star? Others must have seen that bright star in the sky, but no one but the wise men were asking why it was there and no one else but the wise men followed the star to Bethlehem to worship the newborn king.
God in Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, continues to be present and active in our world. Are we flexible enough to adjust our plans in those places where God is at work in our lives? Are we looking for Jesus to show up, even when, or especially when things don’t come together like we think they should?
May this new year be filled with seeing Jesus, even in the most unlikely of places and people and plans.