Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above While mortals sleep the angels keep their watch of wondering love Oh morning stars together, proclaim thy holy birth. And praises sing to God the king, and peace to men on earth. Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
The song “Mary, did you know” has a beautiful melody, and a sweet sentiment .
However, when we compare Isaiah 9, with Gabriel’s announcement to her, it’s plain to see she would have instantly knowing what Gabriel was referring to.
Mary, even though she was likely in her mid teens, even though she would not have been able to leave attend the synagogue school, would never the less been very familiar with Isaiah. She would have heard the prophecies throughout her life. At home, in the synagogue, and around her village.
A simple comparison with Isaiah 9 & Luke one make this apparent rather quickly.
“But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish. In earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He will make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. You will multiply the nation, You will increase their joy; They will rejoice in Your presence As with the joy of harvest, As people rejoice when they divide the spoils. For You will break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the marching warrior in the roar of battle, And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of armies will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:1-7 -NASB
And the angel said to her, “ Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom C have no end.” Luke 1:30-33 -NASB
Gabriel tells Mary that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is to receive David’s throne.
And we know that she understands based on the song she composed on the spot when talking with her cousin Elizabeth.
And Mary said: “ My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond-servant; For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. And His mercy is to generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, And sent the rich away empty-handed. He has given help to His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, Just as He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.” Luke 1:46-55 – NASB
O come all ye faithful Joyful and triumphant O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem Come and behold Him Born the King of Angels O come let us adore Him O come let us adore Him O come let us adore Him Christ the Lord
Yes Lord, we greet Thee Born this happy morning Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n Word of the Father Now in flesh appearing O come let us adore Him O come let us adore him O come let us adore Him Christ the Lord
( Author: John Francis Wade)
It’s that time of year when we’re generally joyful. Are we overall triumphant? That remains to be seen. Ultimately, we are eternally triumphant because of Christ . But I’m not sure we’re leaving triumphantly in the here and now.
I feel like it’s all too easy to get caught up in all the fun, the celebration, the spectacle.
And to loose sight of the miracle.
Or maybe it’s just me.
I was getting ready to do a Gingerbread Themed photo shoot, and I paused momentarily. Evergreens, bright lights, gingerbread houses… I adore all the sights and sounds of the season.
And yet, they have absolutely nothing to do with what I love most about Christmastime. The fact that God condescended to become a baby, to save a world that didn’t even know it needed Him.
That’s amazing. That’s the literal Christmas Miracle.
But while it’s the most wonderful news, it’s aesthetic isn’t quite as beautiful, awe inspiring, or Instagramable.
An Unwed Teenage Mother, living in Poverty. an overwhelming tax burden, by a Conquering Enemy that ruled with an iron fist.
A dirty barn. With animals and all the usual animal smells.
No room in the inn. A world too busy with its own concerns to welcome the Savior of the world.
It wasn’t documented by a camera.
For me, a photographer with a blog, the question arises- how to convey some of the very real meaning behind the holiday?
And , how does one even begin to convey some of these images?
Most people want to view beautiful images.
Or, images that make them feel something.
And frankly, I want to take beautiful pictures, and candid photos that capture the moment and evoke emotions.
Holiday houses are beautiful, Christmas decorations are festive, baking cookies are fun..
But I still haven’t arrived at infusing the deeper meaning behind the season.
And frankly, I’m not sure if a Gingerbread photo shoot is a self indulgent waste of time, something fun that has no real value, or something that could potentially encourage someone else.